Global Warming

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In this paper I’ll write about the “Why’s and How’s” of Global warming;
Why is it happening? Why are we not doing enough to stop it?
How could we stop it? Is it too late?

I will also discuss it and put some (or a lot) of my own thoughts into it.
Since global warming effects us all it’s a very important subject that probably needs more attention than it’s getting at this point.
We all know that global warming is a fact, but do we know what it really is?

What’s global warming and the greenhouse effect?

Global warming is gradual warming of the atmosphere. This is caused by burning fossil fuels. When the rays of the sun hits the earth’s atmosphere and surface, about 70% of the energy stays on the planet, absorbed by materials and substances on the earth, like water and plants. The other 30% is reflected back into space by clouds, snow and other reflective surfaces.

The change that we humans create is called an “amplified warming”.
The average temperature on earth has increased by about 0,6ºC and the sea level has raised by 10-20 cm just this last century. We in the north can expect that our temperature is going to increase by about 10ºC in the following hundred years. In only one hundred years has the polar ice shrunken as much as the size of Sweden times three, that’s a lot of ice!

Still all the heat that gets passed the atmosphere and down to earth doesn’t stay there, since then there would be coming more and more heat just adding up turning earth into a giant ball of fire. But, if all the heat went out again the earth would turn as cold as outer space (It would probably look a lot like Mars), so a certain amount of heat has to stop at the atmosphere and be reflected back by greenhouse gases and water vapor. The greenhouse effect is on a certain level a natural warming process. Carbon dioxide and certain other gases are always present in the atmosphere.

So without the greenhouse effect we would all freeze to death, but now when the greenhouse effect is getting out of hand it seems that we’re going to fry and starve to death instead.

The protective Ozone layer:

It’s the ozone layer that protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation and smaller space rocks.

Sources that harm the protective Ozone layer:
Solvent cleaning products 36,1%
Sterilization 3,0%
Refrigeration and air conditioning 19,6%
Foam products 14,3%
Aerosols 5,0%
Other products including Halos 12,0%

Ultraviolet rays can create in cancer (often malignant melanoma) in people that are in contact with a high concentration frequently. We’ve all heard about the dangers with sunbathing, it’s because of the fact that the damaged ozone layer is letting too much ultra violet rays reach the earth.

Malignant melanoma

Before, they used ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in refrigerators (some still do though). They now make refrigerators not containing them since they want to protect the ozone layer, a step in the right direction.

Some of the gases contributing to change in temperature:
- Carbon dioxide
- Methane
- Nitrous oxides
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
- Halocarbons (replacements for CFCs)
(Another gas that can be counted with the greenhouse gases is water vapor. It also reflects heat and rays, but is a gas that can be “Taken care of” in some measures.)

Plants use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, using both the carbon and the oxygen to make carbohydrates. In addition, plants also release oxygen to the atmosphere, which is used by heterotrophic organisms for respiration, forming a cycle. We naturally release it by breathing, the plants use it to create sugar and releases oxygen (which is the most important thing for all heterotrophic organisms). But we are altso distube the balance in the cycle by destroyng the forests, cutting them down to create more fuel and by doing that, creating more greenhouse gases. And when there is no trees to transform the carbon dioxide, it just flows into the atmosphere and stayes there.

“Greenhouse gases”, why are they called that?

Well, the burning of fossil fuels creates these gases.
The gases are then trapped in the atmosphere making a layer of gas surrounding the earth. The layer can be compared with glass in a greenhouse since they let the warmth get in, but they don’t let it out in space again. The rays of the sun normally comes in, and then a percentage of is bounces back into space, this makes the heat stay the same as before. But if some of the heat isn’t let out again, the temperature on earth will just keep on increasing.

Potential results from global warming:

 Ice on the poles melt, causing flooding of countries beneath the new waterline and costal areas.
 Deserts expanding making less room for cropping
 Animals move or die because of the changes in climate makes their native lands too hot/dry/inhospitable.
 New technology will be needed to fix the change damage of technology. But will this work without putting any pressure on nature and the atmosphere? It’s like the problem is preventing us from fixing the problem.

Solutions, renewable energy sources:

 Buildings forests of wind power stations
 Growing “energy forest” (trees that grows fast and easily burn)
 Tidal power
 Alcohol (growing sugar)
 Geothermal energy (a form of energy made from heat deep in the earth’s crust.)

Renewable energy sources are the only solution at this point, the only existing answer to the question about a stop to this process that will end us all eventually. Still, there might be many more that we don’t know about yet. But we can’t just use them because they are renewable; they need to make less or no damage to the already fragile circle.

Backside of existing alternative solutions:

 Not very effective
 Takes a lot of power and time to create
 Expensive
 All alternative solutions are not an option for all countries
 Wind power stations can’t fit everywhere because it needs big surfaces.

Tidal power only works in places where the tides are strong. In Sweden they aren’t, so to build tidal power stations here would be a waste of time and money because it wouldn’t be efficient. It only provides power about 10 hours a day when the tides are moving in or out.

Thinking about global warming you might think “I’m only one person, what can I do? Nothing, so I’m just going to do what everybody else does.”
If everybody just did some small things it would absolutely be a step in the right direction. This might seem quite easy, but what about the countries that can’t afford the new alternative energy sources? Should they be the exceptions? In that case, wouldn’t that create jealousy among the countries that has to follow the new rules about conserving the nature?
Yes, probably... The riches countries are often the greediest.

What we can do as individuals:

 Walk more instead driving in our cars and on mopeds
 Recycle
 Use less harmful alternatives (for example less harmful hairspray)
 Ecological foods
 Save power! Turn the lights off and don’t use unnecessary amounts of power in your homes.
 Save paper, save trees, plant trees.
 Use refrigerators that don’t contain harmful gasses

We might need to invent something fantastic one day, not a better car that runs on water but something like a machine that transforms greenhouse gasses into oxygen. Or, why not make it create both oxygen and ozone?
Wouldn’t that be great? Yes, it would. To be able to release ozone from space shuttles on their way out to pace or something. It seems so far away, like it’s something taken from an old Sci-Fi movie. But, it may be possible since for a couple of hundreds of years ago the technology we have today would have been seen as impossible. The human has created many things, but only for its own usage. This greed; this will to have a better life might be what will eventually end the human race and all the living things around us. Sure, life is better now for most people compared with 500 years ago, but to what price?

Quantity or quality… That might be the question we have to ask ourselves if we can’t invent that fantastic device solving all our problems about the global warming issue. Should we lay low with burning and destroying to let the children of the future generations have a chance to live? Selfish, that’s what we have become, or the human race might always have been selfish, taking the power over the world and all that. Haha, or if I’m going to go way to the extreme with me little theories… If there is alien life out there that uses oxygen, why not be real little bastards and go steal their oxygen? That would just be mean, but hey, it’s the law of the jungle out there.

Even if we take care of the greenhouse gases, the problem with the lack of fuel is still present. Some day power might become too expensive, and all of these things that we take for granted here in the north like cars and domestic devices will be only for the rich. I mean, the electrical prices are already sky high, and it will probably become worse. This could spread a kind of poverty, unemployment and cause technical development to stop or go backwards. Dark ages here we come again!

Still, I’m hoping on that device… So to all you inventors out there; get to work!

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  • Inactive member 2007-08-09



Inactive member [2006-03-12]   Global Warming
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