The past 100 years has seen the Earths surface warm up approximately 0.6°C. Over these 100 years there has been a massive increase in man made greenhouse gases, mainly down to the effects of burning fossil fuels and the depletion of forest and woodland. These are not the only two topics in the Global Warming debate, as there are many other topics that affect Global Warming and contribute to climate change.
- Carbon Dioxide
- Fossil Fuels
All of these and many more have an impact to our environment and in turn attribute to Global Warming.
Carbon dioxide, aka CO2 is a colourless and odourless gas made up of two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. CO2 is produced when carbon is burned in an excess of oxygen. E.G. it is released into the atmosphere during natural forest fires and the man-made combustion of fossil fuels. CO2 can be found in other natural sources like volcanic eruptions, decay of dead organic matter (Plants and Animals ETC), evaporation from the oceans and breathing. Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere by carbon dioxide absorbers, known as “sinks”. The main removal of Carbon dioxide from our atmosphere is absorption by seawater, photosynthesis by ocean-dwelling plankton and land-dwelling plantation, including forests and grasslands.
CFCs Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs as they are more commonly known are all man-made and do occur naturally. CFCs started to be utilised in the 1930s where they were used in aerosols, foam manufacture, air conditioning and refrigeration. CFCs are a far stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, and they damage the stratospheric ozone. The Montreal Protocol in 1987 helped in the phasing out CFCs emissions in an attempt to protect the ozone layer, but because of the long atmospheric lifetimes CFCs have they will continue to influence the greenhouse effect for many years.
Deforestation The world’s forests cover approximately a quarter to a third of the total land surface of the Earth. The reduction in area of this valuable environmental, social and economic resource through deforestation has the potential to cause problems on a global scale. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis, and help to regulate the natural greenhouse effect. Deforestation takes away a potential consumer for the carbon dioxide mankind is pumping into the atmosphere. In addition, if forests are removed by burning, a lot of extra carbon dioxide locked up in tree wood is returned to the atmosphere.
Emissions Greenhouse gases are emissions in the atmosphere that occur naturally, released by natural sources. These gasses are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. The last 200 years has seen a dramatic rise of these greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere by man-made substances. These additional emissions are increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere above their natural limits, enhancing the natural greenhouse effect that is believed to be causing global warming.
Fossil Fuels Power that everybody uses is created by the burning of fossil fuels, weather it be conventional power stations that burn coal, oil or gas to produce electricity. Road vehicles burn fossil fuel in the form of petrol or diesel, these are fuels refined from oil. The above called fossil fuels because of the way they are formed. It takes millions of years of decay to produce these fuels. Fossil fuels are made by the burial and compaction of rotting vegetation on land (coal), and marine organisms on the sea floor (oil and gas). Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, that enhances the greenhouse effect.
As you can see these are just some of the major contributors to Global Warming. There are many other topics as subheadings under each of these that play an equal part in contribution to our Climate Change. It is in these sub headings that we as individuals can make a difference in.