If I can make a dollar for every occasion the issue ‘Global Warming’ pops up, I’d be a billionaire by now – Me.
Yes, by the tender age of seventeen, I’ve listened to countless campaigns about global warming, read countless articles about global warming, written countless essays about global warming and moaned countless times about the monotony of global warming. And as fate would have it, I’m facing the daunting task of writing yet another essay on (yes, you guessed it) GLOBAL WARMING.
Now, for the sake of those who were living under a rock for the past decade, global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-twentieth century and its projected continuation. In English, it means the hot weather everyone’s been experiencing way before we’re born. Global warming can be explained using scientific jargon (and I’ve come across a lot of those when I searched ‘Global Warming’ on Google) but considering this is an English essay, I’ll spare you. We know global warming to be a critical issue the environment is facing. And we want to do something about it – unless you’re a fat lazy slob who thinks global warming is a new brand of ice cream.
Since I have a profound dislike for the bombardment of scientific explanation in English lesson essays, I’ll describe the effects of global warming to you in such a way that you’ll walk away educated and no headaches. I solemnly promise. So here goes.
The most obvious effect of global warming is the rise in temperature. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Global surface temperature increased 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the last century. Climate model projections summarized in the latest IPCC report indicate that global surface temperature will probably rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the twenty-first century. Never mind if those figures boggle you. What is important is that you understand that the earth is getting significantly warmer.
Now, the rise in temperature is largely due to the emission of greenhouse gases. The common misconception is that greenhouse gases are BAD and they were a result of human industrial activities. However, did you know that naturally occurring greenhouse gases have a mean warming effect of about 33 °C, without which Earth would be uninhabitable? Greenhouse gases are NECESSARY for survival or we’d all freeze to death and they have been around since the earth was created. The problem arises when human activity since the industrial revolution has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane have increased by 36% and 148% respectively since the mid-1700s. And that ladies and gentlemen, is the main cause of global warming.
But I digress. I was talking about the effects of global warming and shall now promptly return on track. Since global warming is attributed to greenhouse gases and greenhouse is attributed to carbon dioxide, the effect of global warming is synonymous with the effect of increased production of carbon dioxide. And while we may talk about all the common effects of global warming such as falling grain yields, climatic changes and whatnots, there is one little know effect. Global warming results in ocean acidification. Yes, I’m totally serious about this. According to Mark Z. Jacobson, author of Journal of Geophysical Journal, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide increases the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the oceans. Carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean reacts with water to form carbonic acid, resulting in ocean acidification. Since organisms and ecosystems are adapted to a narrow range of pH, this raises extinction concerns, that could disrupt food webs and impact human societies that depend on marine ecosystem services.
Well then, moving on to a more popular global warming effect – the rising sea level. With increasing average global temperature, the water in the oceans expands in volume, and additional water enters them which had previously been locked up on land in glaciers, for example, the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets. In fact, scientists have estimated that sea levels could rise up to seven meters. What makes the current sea level rise so much more threatening than earlier ones is the worldwide increase of humans and their preferences for living in and developing coastal areas. Nearly 75 percent of Americans, for example, live on or within 50 miles of the coast. Island countries like Japan and Philippians are in danger of being submerged and this would pose environmental refugee problems.
So then, the big question remains. As any Sherlock Holmes worth his buttons will tell you, you need to determine the cause to pursue rectification. We know that global warming is largely due to increased production of greenhouse gases. Therefore, what do we as individuals do about it?
Simple really. Take small steps. Car pool or take public transport to reduce the number of vehicles emitting carbon dioxide. Reduce, reuse and recycle as by recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Buy energy-efficient products. Use less hot water and air-conditioning. Breathe out less to reduce amount of carbon dioxide in to the air.
I’m joking about the last one. But everything else above will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted and hence, help our earth to recover. I may be one but I am still ONE. And because I am ONE, I will not refuse to do the ONE thing I can do. After all, we have only one earth, ours to make and ours to keep.
Written by Tuen Tze Quan
Or at least until my essay reaches my teacher's hands
P.S See Sarah-Ann, you have made me so guilty for neglecting my blog that I post up homework. Hahahahaha! If you don't see read and acknowledge this by Monday, I'm taking this postscript down.