Out of millions of galaxies of the universe, only a single planet of the milky way is blessed with life.
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Even huge planets like Jupiter, Saturn, or Uranus aren’t able to match the uniqueness of Earth. That’s why it is also referred to as a ‘unique planet’ or ‘blue planet’ or ‘human planet’.
Readout: What makes life possible on Earth
Now the question is that are humans really appreciating this life? Are we thankful to Earth or not? Maybe we are, after all, our holy books, respect the Earth as a mother, a mother of all life, mother Earth. But, the recent report of IPCC is a tight slap on our face. Global warming is continuously threatening our home planet and our lives.
What is Global Warming?
The average temperature of Earth is 14 degrees Celsius. Unlike other planets, it is neither too hot nor too cold, and this is one of the key factors supporting life on Earth. Suppose how hard would it be for living beings to bear a temperature of 480 degrees Celsius of Venus, or to tolerate -200 degrees Celsius of Neptune.
Also, while other planets have dynamic temperatures with huge variations, the temperature of the Earth is quite stable. But, from the pre-industrial i.e. 1850 to 1900, due to the advent of industries and other human activities, the temperature of the Earth is continuously increasing.
This process of continuous heating of the Earth is referred to as Global Warming. The rapid increase in temperature has caused many severe damages to Earth and mankind.
When was Global Warming first considered?
Before 1895, as a cause of unawareness among common people and lack of scientific education, no one had ever worried about pollution and global warming on an open scale.
It was in 1896, when a Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius, analyzed almost a 100-year research in climate. Then, for the first time, predicted the relation of carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect. Later in 1938, Guy Callendar connected the further dots.
Many causes together result in global warming. People often consider the Greenhouse effect as a cause of Global Warming. In actual greenhouse effect is vital for life on Earth. Then why, greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect are treated as villains of the story. Let’s understand this first:
What is the greenhouse effect? A boon or a bane?
Taking science into consideration, the greenhouse effect is an important natural process. As the name suggests, this effect works on the principle of the greenhouse. Glass walls of the greenhouse traps gases inside it, this helps in maintaining a constant temperature.
Even when at night, the temperature cools, the greenhouse inside is warm. This further helps in the healthy growth of plants and saplings.
In the same way, the greenhouse effect makes the Earth a comfortable place to survive. Earth’s atmosphere captures the sun’s heat and makes it warmer than it would be without the atmosphere.
What actually increases the level of global warming, is the disturbance of the natural greenhouse effect. Human activities such as the burning of fossils, CFCs, etc., are increasing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Ultimately, causing an imbalance in the natural greenhouse effect.
Causes of Global Warming
Key factors responsible for Global Warming
The burning of fossils releases a huge amount of CO2 into the air. The increased level of CO2 imbalances the natural cycle of the Earth. This imbalance is a major root of global warming. Here is a brief description of the foremost causes of global warming:
The fast-moving world is utilizing a maximum of vehicles and petrol to serve its needs. Combustion of petrol from vehicles yields a notable amount of air pollution.
The increasing population is continuously demanding more land, for housing, industries, and transportation. To meet these demands, trees and forests are being destroyed on a large scale. Distorting the natural ecosystem and decreasing the oxygen production of green plants, deforestation strengthens the evil of global warming.
Power plants are designed to produce electricity from primary energy. And, almost 60.3% of total electricity is produced by fossil-based power plants. Fossils like coal and natural gas are combusted to supply the electricity demand of the globe.
Natural calamities such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires along with CO2, cause massive destruction of wildlife and natural resources.
Excess use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides in the field releases huge levels of methane and CO2 in the atmosphere. Along with global farming, these chemicals are a major cause of soil pollution too.
Permafrost is a natural phenomenon when soil or sediment is frozen for years, whenever permafrost melts it releases a gigantic amount of greenhouse gases.
CFCs and HCFCs
Increased use of chlorofluorocarbons and HCFCs in the past few decades have worsened the situation. These are greenhouse gases that disturb the natural greenhouse effect. CFCs were used in refrigerators, perfumes, etc.
Consequences of Global Warming
Now, let’s learn about how global warming is harming Mother planet Earth. There are countless consequences of Global warming. The major ones are listed below:
Key consequences of Global Warming
Ozone layer depletion
Ozone layer depletion is one of the key effects of global warming. Ozone lies in the stratosphere region of Earth’s atmosphere. It forms a protective shield around the Earth as it blocks the harmful UV rays from the sun.
UV rays can cause numerous skin disorders including dermis cancer in humans, and it can also affect the growth of plants and other species. In 1985, British Antarctic Survey’s paperwork announced ozone layer depletion for the first time.
Later, it was proved after the discovery of a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica in the south pole. The main reasons for the layer depletion are an increase in temperature and harmful gases such as halocarbons and CFCs. Though, scientists assured that the ozone layer will heal itself by 2070, it is still integral that we guard our activities.
Melting of Glaciers
The melting of glaciers is another destructive effect of global warming. Continuous increase in Earth’s average temperature is resulting in melting of ice covered glacial. This will increase the sea and ocean water levels of the world. According to the IPCC report, the global ocean level has increased 8 inches since 1870. If the trend goes on, it could cost heavy damage around the coastal region.
Every day we see newspaper headlines declaring about, “Late arrival of monsoons”, “Change in the route of trade winds”, “Drought and famine hitting even coastal areas”, etc., etc. Long term trend of Global Warming has resulted in these uncertainties in climatic conditions.
In India, we have recently faced the hottest day ever of the decade, while some states of the US are having winter colder than normal winters.
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Disturbance in Ecosystem
The increase in average temperature has to disturb the natural ecosystem. Many species of animals have vanished because of Global warming. According to the IPCC report, many animals are migrating to the equator and northern poles in search of comfortable temperatures. If we don’t take the necessary measures now, we will lose the biodiversity of the Earth.
Increased risk of pathogens
High temperature expands the home of many diseases causing pathogens. COVID-19 is itself an example of how human activities are destroying mankind. The existence of new pathogens will create more challenges for scientists and healthcare.
An open risk to Human Health
Global warming is the gradual cause of many infectious diseases. Despite having amazing healthcare, the cases of Asthma, malaria, Encephalitis, vision loss, etc. have increased in recent years.
How can we stop Global Warming?
We have the cause, we know the effects, but what can be done to diminish the consequences of global warming.
Trees are said to be the best friend of humans. Humans need to treat them as best friends. Forests balance the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere. Forests are home to several species of plants, animals, and other resources. It helps in bringing rainfall.
Also, by binding their roots to the soil, trees prevent soil erosion. Understanding their ecological importance, afforestation should be practiced on a large scale.
Use public transport
Keeping your economic status and comfort zone aside, choose public transport to make this Earth a comfortable place for all life forms.
Follow 3 R’s principle
Reduce, recycle and reduce more waste materials.
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Guard industrial activities
Industrial activities such as mining should be limited for a particular period. Earth should be given sufficient time to heal itself again. The chemical waste of industries should be decomposed or dumped with cautions.
We are living in a developing era. But no development should be at the cost of the Earth. Humans should follow the principle of sustainable development. Sustainable development refers to the process of meeting the demand of mankind without harming the ecosystem.
Humans should limit their pollution-causing activities. CO2 emissive machines should be reduced, or alternatives should be chosen.
Ban the use of harmful chemicals
Chemicals like CFCs and Halocarbons should be banned and an alternative for them should be searched.
Use renewable sources of energy
Renewable sources of energy such as solar energy and wind energy should be used to meet human requirements. Recent discoveries such as electric vehicles and hydrogen energy deserve appreciation. And scientists should search for more alternatives like these.
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The UN and Indian government have launched many schemes such as van Mahotsav, car-free day, pollution-free measures to check the consequences of global warming on the mass level. But the government alone can’t do anything until we stand with them together. Efforts should be made on individual levels to protect our mother planet.
Once Mahatma Gandhi said, “The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed”. And, it is high time to understand the message behind this statement. Our focus now should shift towards sustainable development.