The term ‘Global warming’ is regarded as a continuous process through which the average temperature of the Earth increases, causing atmospheric and climatic changes. The history of global warming dates from the mid of 20th century when scientists claimed the rise in the average temperature of the Earth. During the initial period of its discovery ‘global warming’ was a limited topic for scientists and researchers only. They made some efforts in order to create awareness. It, however, remained a controversy between different groups of researchers for almost three decades. In late 1980’s a group of scientists of NASA challenged the ‘global warming’. They held that the rise in the Earth’s average temperature is not continuous. They were of the opinion that the average temperature of the Earth rises in some years but it falls as well. They had strong evidence of fall in average temperature of the Earth during 1943-45 and 1981-84. With the development of new technologies and changing research criterion, the issue of ‘global warming’ has taken a new direction. Now the term ‘global warming’ is not only the rise in average temperature of the Earth but also changing the economic, commercial, political and human geography of the world by causing problems in economic, social and political stages of the world. For a better understanding of the effects of global warming it’s necessary to have a glimpse of the factors which cause global warming.
The factors responsible for global warming can be classified as ‘primary factors’ and ‘secondary factors’. These two factors are very close to each other and work in co-ordination. The primary factors include the human activities which cause the destructions of the natural environment. These activities are performed by humans in order to satisfy the increasing needs of their artificial environment i.e. the needs of increasing population. Man uses industries, vehicles etc in this context. Primary factors mainly include ‘pollution’, i.e. Land pollution, air pollution and water pollution, and deforestation. The types of pollution which are directly responsible for the global warming are air pollution and land pollution. Air pollution is caused by the discharge of harmful gases in the air. Smoke from domestic concerns, industries and vehicles play a vital role in this connection. Industrial gaseous waste and smoke from vehicles contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are highly reactant gases. When these gases react with the CO2 present in the air, the reaction releases energy which causes the atmosphere to get hot. When these CFCs go a little up, they find ozone there.
Actually Ozone is an isotope of oxygen with a strong bond O3 .This bond of oxygen is unbreakable for ordinary elements but as CFCs are highly reactants they break up the O3 bond forming CO2 etc and yields as a broken ozone layer.The ozone layer stops infra-red and ultra-violet rays from coming to the surface of the earth, but when this layer breaks infra-red and ultra-violet rays find their way direct to the surface of the earth, penetrating into it and make the inside of the Earth hot.
The part played by land pollution is comparatively less than that of the air pollution. The waste materials discharged by industrial and domestic concerns is absorbed by the surface of the Earth. When these substances pass through a chemical reaction with the elements inside the Earth, the released energy increases the temperature of the Earth and changes its formation.
The role of pesticides and excess use of fertilizers is contra part of land pollution.
After pollution the most important factor contributed by humans is ‘deforestation’, whereby people cut trees but do not plant the replacements in the same ratio. Trees absorb a large amount of CO2 present in the air, so that the air gets purified for living things (man and animals) to breathe in. The decreased number of trees increases the action of CO2 in the atmosphere, which heats it up and hence caused global warming.
The secondary factors include ‘Green house’ effect and ‘Natural Disaster’. Green house effect causes some gases to stay in the atmospheres which heat it up. Natural Disasters are in fact the next episode of ‘air pollution’, whereby the change in the climate comes to happen. the influx of infra-rd and ultra-violet rays cause the polar ice to melt. Hence the level of water in the oceans and seas increases. The increased water in the oceans and seas brings flooding, cyclones and tornadoes etc. Not only this, but the increased temperature of the inside of the Earth (when infrared and ultra violet rays penetrate into the surface of the Earth) causes ‘magma’ to heat up and result as ‘volcanic eruption’, ‘earthquakes’( heat expands the tectonic plates so the either collide or overlap) and ‘seaquakes’ (quakes in the sea-bed, which brings Tsunamis).
The effects of Global Warming are hazardous. These effects are economic, social political and environmental in nature. The Economic effects are the basic ones. The economy of a particular area depends upon its natural, human and financial resources. The natural disasters and changing climates ruin the economic infrastructure of the area by destroying all these resources. Unfavourable climate for crops creates scarcity of food and clothing. The ultimate consequences are hunger, diseases, homelessness etc. All these consequences paralyze the economy. The major examples in this regard are (1) the ‘tsunami’ which hit Indonesia and some parts of India and (2) the Earthquake in northern Areas of Pakistan. The helplessness of people, the massive deaths and destruction of domestic as well as industrial concerns cant be forgotten.
Other major examples of the effects of global warming are ’Katrina’, ‘Rita’ and ‘Velma’ hurricanes which hit USA. The formation of these hurricanes is actually a consequence of global warming. USA is the biggest industrial estate of the world, generating most of the industrial gaseous waste, containing CFCs. These CFC’s has depleted the ozone layer on the North Pole. The hole in the ozone layer is about 25 km in diameter. The depleted ozone layer allowed the infra-red and ultra-violet rays to enter into the troposphere (part of atmosphere close to earth’s surface). The most of the area of North Pole is a layer of ice about a mile deep. The infra-red and ultra-violet rays melted this layer and the increased level of water in the Arctic, which traveled towards the land in form of these hurricanes. The economic effects of these disasters were also massive but USA being a prosperous country bore the shock. The effect of global warming doesn’t stop here. According to careful approximations Seven States of USA will be under water by the next decade.
The social effects of the global warming may also be known as ‘long term’ problems, which are basically derived from the primary economic effects. The social effects include poverty, changing attitudes (as a consequence of shock), low standard of living, deprival of social needs etc. These social effects respond as social evils in the societies, i.e. robberies, murders etc.
The most important effect is the political effect which takes a long time to get developed. The changing topographies as a result of disasters may also effect the international boundaries, which in long run creates disputes among the nations. The changing formation of the Earth may also be seen as an appearance of a new piece of land or a disappearance of an existing piece of land. In this context I’d like to quote example of an island appeared in Mediterranean sea and the dispute between the all nearest countries for the possession of the same.
The environmental effects are misbalancing ecosystems, diseases (skin cancer etc), changed topography, destroyed habitats etc. These environmental effects of global warming had enjoyed a good favour, as they had been discussed more than any other effect till yet. But unluckily, in spite of all favours, these Effects of global warming are increasing day by day.
Man has always been in combat with the problems, so to ensure the maximum reduction in the negative consequences of the global warming; he made a lot of efforts. In the early 1970’s American senate passed a bill to save the environment. In this connection, every year on 22nd March, ‘Earth Day’ is celebrated through out the world. In Pakistan the ‘day’ gained popularity in last couple of years. This is a good step to create awareness among the common men, but only urban areas of a country benefit from it. Rural areas of most of the countries do not play role in this regard.
‘Kyoto Protocol’ is also a major step in formulating remedies for the adversities of the global warming. According to this statement, all the countries should decrease their industrial waste up to 10% per annum. The biggest industrial estate USA which produces about 70% of the total industrial waste of the world has abandoned the statement. Careful approximations reveal that decreasing industrial production up to 10% will cost USA a loss of about $ 3,000,000,000,000 (3 trillion dollars) per year, which USA doesn’t want to bear.
‘Sustainable economic growth’ is another strategy presented by experts. According to this strategy the economic resources should be utilized in such a way that they do not create any adversity for the natural environment. This strategy demands a sustainable growth which means the production concerns should produce the commodities according to careful statistics, so that the probability of wastage should be minimum. Secondly the sustainable economic growth helps to maintain resources for a long period of time. For instance the major fuel which is being used in the whole world today is fossil fuel. Burning of fossil fuel plays apart in global warming on one hand and scarcity of fuel on other hand. Scientists are of the strong opinion that the amount of fossil fuel which is consumed in a year, take almost one million year to be produced by natural decomposition of materials.
In my opinion formulating remedies only is not the way, these remedies must be applied in a pragmatic context. To lessen the effects of global warming it is crucially required to nip its causes. The rules should be equal for all industrial concerns, whether it is USA or any other developing country. International organization should ensure the decrease in industrial waste by USA. Secondly the efforts should not be limited to urban areas, but the participation of rural areas should also be encouraged. Secondly environmental education should be a part of co-curricular activities in the educational institutes, i.e. schools colleges and universities. The above mentioned steps can be best at societal, national and international level, but nothing gets done until someone starts it. So the most important of all the strategies is ‘individual participation’.
Global warming has caused various changes in atmosphere and climate of the Earth, which adversely affected almost all areas of human activities. In the present scenario we are not in the position to nip the global warming completely but what we can do is to minimize its effects with the help of sustainable economic growth and awareness programs at every level. The crucial need in this regard is uniform direction at global level.