Global Warming: Causes and Effects


23 Mar 2015 15 Dec 2017

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Global Warming is defined as the increase of the average temperature on Earth. As the Earth is getting hotter, disasters like hurricanes, droughts and floods are getting more frequent. It is responsible for the conspicuous increase in storms, floods and raging forest fires we have seen in the last ten years, though, say scientists. Tier data show that an increase of one degree Celsius makes the Earth warmer now than it has been for at least a thousand years. Out of the 20 warmest years on record, 19 have occurred since 1980.

There have always been natural climate hangs - Ice Ages and the warm intermediate times between them - but those even, a temperature rise as fast as the one we have seen over the last 30 years has never happened before, as far as scientists can ascertain. Moreover, normally the Earth should now be in a cool-down-period, according to natural effects like solar cycles and volcano activity, not in a heating-up phase.

What Is The Greenhouse Effect?

Seen from space, our atmosphere is but a tiny layer of gas around a huge bulky planet. But it is this gaseous outer ring and it's misleadingly called greenhouse effect that makes life on Earth possible - and that could destroy life as we know it. The sun is the Earth's primary energy source, a burning star so hot that we can feel its heat from over 150 million kilometres away. Its rays enter our atmosphere and shower upon on our planet. About one third of this solar energy is reflected back into the universe by shimmering glaciers, water and other bright surfaces. Two thirds, however, are absorbed by the Earth, thus warming land, oceans, and atmosphere much of this heat radiates back out into space, but some of it is stored in the atmosphere. This process is called the greenhouse effect. Without it, the Earth's average temperature would be a chilling -18 degrees Celsius, even despite the sun's constant energy supply. In a world like this, life on Earth would probably have never emerged from the sea. Our planet, however, has no glass walls; the only thing that comes close to acting as such is our atmosphere. But in here, processes are way more complicated than in a real greenhouse. Like a radiator in space only about half of all solar energy that reaches the Earth is infrared radiation and causes immediate warming when passing the atmosphere. The other half is of a higher frequency, and only translates into heat once it hits Earth and is later reflected back into space as waves of infrared radiation.

This transformation of solar radiation in to infrared radiation is crucial, because infrared radiation can be absorbed by the atmosphere. So, on a cold and clear night for example, parts of this infrared radiation that would normally dissipate into space get caught up in the Earth's atmosphere. And like a radiator in the middle of a room, our atmosphere radiates this heat into all directions. Parts of this heat are finally sent out in the frozen nothingness of space, parts of it are sent back to Earth where they step up global temperatures. Just how much warmer it gets down here depends on how much energy is absorbed up there- and this, in turn, depends on the atmosphere's composition.

How do these things happen

Nitrogen, oxygen, and argon make up 98 percent of the Earth's atmosphere. But they do not absorb significant amounts of infrared radiation, and thus do not contribute to the greenhouse effect. It is the more exotic components like water vapour, carbon dioxide, ozone, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons that absorb heat and thus increase atmospheric temperatures. Studies indicate that until some 2.7 billion years ago, there was so much carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane in our atmosphere that average temperatures on Earth were as high as 70 degrees. But bacteria and plants slowly turned CO2 into oxygen and the concentration of CO2 in our current atmosphere dropped to just about 0.038 percent or 383 parts per million (PPM), a unit of measurement used for very low concentrations of gases that has become a kind of currency in climate change debates.

Can we control global warming?

Yes we can control global warm by creating jobs, saving consumers money, and protecting our national security. By investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and increasing the efficiency of the cars we drive, we can take essential steps toward reducing our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels that cause global warming. Using energy more efficiently and moving to renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and bio energy) would significantly reduce our emissions of heat-trapping gases. Since the burning of fossil fuels releases large amounts of carbon dioxide-the leading cause of global warming-but renewable energy does not, increasing the share of our electricity generated from renewable resources is one of the most effective ways to reduce global warming emissions.

Cars and trucks are another significant source (45 percent) of carbon dioxide emissions. A serious effort to address global warming must therefore reduce emissions from cars and trucks.We know that the earth is very sensitive to small changes in the amount of incoming sunlight. What about launching relatively small amounts of Mylar foil into low earth orbit? By picking the right orbits, we control how much sunlight they reflect and how long they stay up. We even could use a more complex idea of Mylar balloons with a few millbars of a specially formulated gas. As soon as sun light strikes it, the balloon fully expands reflecting sunlight, but on the night side of the planet, the balloon collapses to allow heat to flow past it into space from earth. We could use EM accelerator launch tubes to place them into orbit, bypassing the need for chemical rockets.  All this method can help to control global warming Maybe use lasers at a frequency that Mylar doesn't reflect, to burn up any extra balloons that our real-time calculations say we don't need for that year.


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