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Studying The Causes Of Global Warming

Posted by in Society: Environment  ~  April 05, 2012 03:27:31 PM

Global warming has become synonymous with everything wrong in today’s world. Erratic weather, rising sea level, floods, droughts everything is being blamed on global warming. While some of the allegations are true, others are under investigation. But before we dwell on what are the effects of global warming, let’s see how this problem was created in the first place.

The First Phase

Global warming is not something new, it has been occurring for the last 400,000 years. The difference is that earlier, it was happening as a part of nature’s cycle. The greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, that came out naturally formed a blanket over earth keeping her warm for life to flourish. Trees took excess CO2 and turned it into O2 and water. But as the Modern Age started, the production of CO2 increased as a result of human activities. Now let’s see what these are:

  • CO2 from power plants: Electricity has been the driving force behind human progress in the last century. The power plants that made it possible burnt coal to generate it. Coals have eighty percent more carbon per unit of energy than natural gas. Carbon dioxide is the main gas emitted from burning coal; so you can imagine how much CO2 is generated when you heat a room electrically in winter without proper insulation.
  • CO2 from cars: CO2 from cars is the second source of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. People don’t bother about how many miles per gallon their cars are giving and so fail to save oil, a precious resource and pollute the air as well.
  • Methane: The second important greenhouse gas, the production of which has gone up by 145% in the last hundred years is methane. It is deadlier than CO2 as it can trap heat up to more than twenty times. Fossil fuel is one major man-made source.
  • Nitrous oxide: Another naturally occurring greenhouse gas that human activities have increased is nitrogen. Fertilizers, cars and burning of organic matter contribute in the formation of this gas.
  • Deforestation: Had trees been there in adequate number, they could have cleaned the excess CO2. But 34 million acres of trees are cut down every year making that impossible.

The Next Phase

As the earth keeps getting hotter, “carbon sink” that had trapped carbon for years have started to release them. Major among them is Permafrost, a solid structure of frozen soil deep below earth. This is found in the Arctic and sub Arctic region. Already, thawing permafrost has started to release CO2 and methane in the air. Tundra, another carbon sink holding approximately 50 million tons of carbon has started to melt due to warmer temperature, releasing CO2 in return. Oceans too have started to release carbon. All these will accelerate the global warming process.