Towards Torres Strait Regional Language Policy and Planning
Is Global Warming Fact or Fiction?
Global warming is the century-scale rise in average temperatures of the earth’s atmosphere. When the sun radiates its heat to the earth, some of the heat is sent back towards space after reflecting from earth. The thin atmosphere of the earth therefore, traps some heat. However, the problem arises due to the presence of greenhouse gases such as Carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases trap some of the reflected heat and over time, the buildup leads to increased temperature in the earth’s atmosphere. Global warming has risen to be one of the most prominent environmental issues in recent decades.
Greenhouse gases constitute about 3% of the earth’s atmosphere by volume. Greenhouse gases exist in varying amounts. 97% of the earth’s atmosphere is composed of water vapor and clouds. The remainder constitutes gasses like Carbon dioxide, Ozone, and nitrous oxide, with carbon dioxide as the leading amount. Therefore, Carbon dioxide constitutes about 0.04% of the atmosphere. Although the minor gases are more effective as “greenhouse agents” than water vapor and clouds, the latter are overwhelming the effect by their high volume. They are consequently thought to be responsible for 75% of the “Greenhouse effect”. At current concentrations, a 3% change of water vapor in the atmosphere will have the same effect as a 100% change in carbon dioxide.
Reports by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), temperatures on the earth’s surface have increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past century. Further than half of this increase has occurred in the last 25 years. It is observed that the temperature is rising at a higher rate than ever before. Human activities like combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation, industrialization, and pollution, which are considered as some of the factors responsible for global warming.
The last two decades of the 20th century, as observed by statistics from scientists, have been the hottest over the last 400 years, according to climate studies. Skeptics however have tried to counter the facts that prove global warming is a real phenomenon happening worldwide. The effects however cannot be denied; they are far from obvious. The Arctic is one of the worst hit places affected by global warming. As recorded by the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report analyzed between 2000 and 2004, the average temperatures in Alaska, Western Canada, and Russia have climbed at twice the global average. The Arctic ice is melting quickly. By 2040, it is anticipated that the region will have a completely ice-free summer, or even earlier.
The Montana Glacier National Park now only has only 25 glaciers, down from the 150 that were there in the year 1910. Skeptics are posing arguments based on false dichotomies and theories that lack scientific proof. The case of the Montana Glacier National Park is quite an evident matter that raises more questions to those who do not believe in global warming. Whatever reason those who do not believe in global warming propose does not sufficiently prove the non-existence of global warming.
Arising from global warming and pollution, coral reefs are languishing in the worst bleaching with the highest dying record since 1980. The coral reef forms a vital part of the coastal ecosystem. It forms a home and avails food to a multitude of organisms. No facts that those who do not believe in global warming have been provided to explain the phenomenon that is being witnessed.
There has been a remarkable increase of water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, which are all greenhouse gases due to contaminating substances released because of industrialization, pollution, and deforestation. Humans and their activities are discharging more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, quicker than the absorbing rates of plants and the oceans. The build-up of carbon dioxide, coupled with other greenhouse gases is steadily driving up the earth’s temperatures as they trap heat in the atmosphere. The rising temperatures have led to melting of the polar ice cap. The polar ice cap has increased its melting rate steadily and quickly over the past few decades. Sea levels have raised by nearly 7 inches in the previous 100 years. The level is greater than the previous 2000 years collectively. The increasing levels of sea water due to global warming could threaten the lives of the populace living along the coastal areas.
Millions of people live within 3 feet of sea level. Many cities around the world are situated near such vulnerable coastal areas. The melting of glaciers may lead to the rise of sea levels. On the other hand, this will cause water shortages in areas that rely on natural sources of water. As per 2006 report in the bulletin Nature, this thermal expansion is predicted to have the leading current impact on typical sea level changes. The second major influence is projected to be the melting of jce caps on mountains and glaciers. Melting sea ice is accountable for below 2% of existing sea level changes.
A documentary titled Al Gore’s avid crusade, asserts to stop global warming’s lethal progress by revealing the wrong beliefs and misconceptions that border it. In the documentary, Al Gore displays a computer recreation of what would transpire to the shorelines of Florida and the San Francisco Bay, given sea levels rose by twenty feet. On the other hand, the simulation does not provide a timeframe for such an event to take place.
Al gore in his 1993 book proposes up to 10 million individuals in Bangladesh will lose their households and means of sustenance due to the rising sea level. Owing to global warming, the polar ice cap melt will melt faster, and sea levels will rise in the next few decades. Where will the people go? Who will be displaced to make room for them? What political conflicts could result? That is a solitary example. Conferring to some estimates, not long after Bangladesh takes the impact, up to sixty percent of the existing populace of Florida may have to be transferred elsewhere. Where will they move? (Guggenheim).
Despite the adoption of the Kyoto protocol, emissions from industries persist. However, according to skeptics, there is no substantial scientific evidence that the human discharge of greenhouse gasses is instigating or will be in the near future. Be the origin of catastrophic heating of the atmosphere on Earth or disturbance of the Earth’s climate. Furthermore, there is quite a large amount of scientific evidence that escalations in atmospheric carbon dioxide provide numerous beneficial effects that facilitate the growth of the natural flora and fauna of the Earth (Guggenheim).
Global warming is instigating the colder areas of the world to become hotter, thus becoming the most vulnerable to diseases as proposed by scientists. Droughts, extinction on endangered species, wildfires, hurricanes, melting of polar ice caps, storms are some of the effects of global warming.
An Inconvenient Truth. Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Perf. Al Gore. 2006. Paramount Vantage, 2006. Film.
Santi, B. and Charlotte, S., 75 Readings: An Anthropology. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Language, 2012.
Stott and Philip, Cold Comfort for ‘Global Warming’ Wall Street Journal, 2012.
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