Carbon dioxide and methane (as well as other gases) in the atmosphere trap heat from the sun close to the Earth’s surface, warming the atmosphere. Combustion of fossil fuels is the largest anthropogenic, or man-made, source of carbon dioxide. From 1860 to 1994, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose from 280 to more than 350 parts per million. A network of scientists organized by the United Nations predicts that by 2100, if emissions are not reduced, global temperatures and sea levels will increase, islands and shorelines could be inundated, climate zones could shift, and weather could grow more turbulent. To address the issue of climate change, countries from around the world met in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 to develop a binding agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from industrialized countries. In this project, you will write 3 – 4 pages (not including title and reference pages) that examine the complex issue of global warming by addressing the following questions:
- What is the greenhouse effect, and how does it work?
- What are the main greenhouse gases?
- What is the present level of atmospheric carbon dioxide? Why has carbon dioxide concentration risen since 1860?
- What are some predicted environmental damages if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced?
- In your analysis, how certain do we need to be about future predictions before acting on this problem
Carbon Dioxide Emissions, Global Warming And Greenhouse Effect – Sample Answer
What is the greenhouse effect, and how does it work?
Global warming is a resultant of the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect entails the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which help to retain heat in the atmosphere. An increase in the gases causes more heat to be retained which leads to global warming. Therefore, if the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is not controlled it increased the greenhouse effect and, as a result, the global warming phenomenon that cause the melting of ice caps and rise in sea level.
What are the main greenhouse gases?
Greenhouse gases absorb infrared rays and emit them back to the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include gaseous compounds of carbon and nitrogen to name a few. The main greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. They are produced by industries that burn fossil fuels that include natural gas, coal, oil and wood among many others. Exhaust from the increasing number of cars has contributed to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
What is the present level of atmospheric carbon dioxide?
The present level of carbon dioxide is more than 350 parts per million. The carbon cycles have been instrumental in balancing the concentrations of carbon dioxide. The level before the industrial revolution was 280 parts per million, but it has increased to more than 350 parts per million. It uses photosynthesis and respiration in plants and organisms to maintain carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The industrial revolution increased the carbon levels exponentially from the 1860 to the present in conjunction with other processes.
What are some predicted environmental damages if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced?
The aftermath effects of increasing carbon in the atmosphere is the melting of ice caps which increases sea level that poses a threat to coastal lands and thus the habitations of people in such area. The more violent storm like tornados will increase as a result. The temperatures affect plants and living organisms that are not used to such temperatures like bears and arctic plants.
Change in various gases affects the temperature in the atmosphere. The glacial period have to have an effect on temperature with a rise of two or a fall of 5 degrees. The model in use is the computer climate model 2, which uses the facts correlated with climate and weather to predict future events in terms of rising of temperature and the resultant destructive effect. The supercomputer uses a distributed memory and 2048 processors to carry out its functions. Researchers are seeking to couple the atmosphere and ocean to improve on the models. The coupling will help in the simulation of the carbon cycle thus improving the models reliability.