Global Warming

The rise in earth’s average temperature is referred to as Global warming. Earth’s temperature has been rising slowly for a long time; however, its pace has suddenly increased in the last century. This temperature rise is a result of human activities leading to a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The trapping of the sun’s rays inside the Earth’s atmosphere is known as the Greenhouse effect. The greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor etc. do not allow the sun’s heat to escape into space causing the Earth’s temperature to rise. The effects of such changes can be huge. Earth’s temperature has already risen 1 °C since the pre-
industrial era and continues to rise. The effects of global warming can be felt in the form of weather fluctuations including erratic weather patterns, and extreme climatic conditions (floods, heatwaves etc.) and rising sea levels.

The industrial revolution saw a sudden increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which has shot up in the past few decades. The burning of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas is a major contributing factor to greenhouse gas emissions. The increasing population, as well as the increasing demand for electricity and fuel, has increased the amount of coal burning and hence the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. The amount of carbon dioxide has increased more than 30 % over the last 150 years. Continuous deforestation has also played a major role in this. Large-scale deforestation has ruined the natural sinks for CO2 absorption. Other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide are also released from human activities like agriculture, industries, production of fertilizers, etc. which although less in amount but cause more harm than CO2. Methane is about twenty times more harmful than CO2 as it traps more heat. Other man-made greenhouse gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6 ) which are released during many industrial processes harm the environment much more than CO2. The melting of polar ice caps as a result of global warming can cause the sea level to rise to impact a large population.

The Kyoto protocol, an international treaty established in 1997, includes 192 countries that have agreed that human activities are leading to global warming and pledged to reduce their greenhouse emissions to rectify the situation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an internationally accepted climate authority and an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, was established in 1988 to evaluate the risk and effects of climate change caused by human activities. The IPCC publishes its reports regularly to make people aware of the current impact of climate change and its future. According to the recent IPCC report on climate change, the global temperature rise must be limited to 1.5 °C to avoid any catastrophic change. Many countries have come together to mitigate the situation and adopt new policies that lead to a cleaner world. The need is to create a drastic change in lifestyle that does not only reduce carbon emissions but also think of ways to remove the already existing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.