The public debate on global warming has become so common that some scientist do not even recognize that there is an argument going on. Climate change refers to variations in global temperatures, and an increase in average global temperatures is known as global warming (Joos and Spahni, 2008). The rate of climate change determines the impact of global warming on socioeconomic and natural systems. Therefore, it is important to examine the causes of global warming in order to identify the best mitigation strategies for the protection of natural and socioeconomic systems. According to Joos and Spahni (2008), global warming occurs as a result of both natural and anthropogenic causes. Natural causes of global warming refer to natural forces that contribute to an increase in global temperatures, while anthropogenic causes of global warming refer to human activities that lead to an increase in global temperatures.
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Changes to the Earth’s orbit and solar variations are the two major natural forces that cause global warming. According to Joos and Spahni (2008), a tilt in the Earth’s orbital is likely to bring about major changes to the world’s climate. The best example of climate change that occurred as a result of a tilt in the Earth’s orbital is transformation of the Sahara desert from fertile grassland to a desert. Additionally, solar changes have a great impact on the world’s climate. For instance, an increase in solar energy increases global temperatures, leading to global warming (Joos and Spahni, 2008).
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Anthropogenic causes of global warming include build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, accumulation of aerosols in the atmosphere, and changes in land use. For instance, human activity during industrial revolution increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which has directly led to an increase in global temperatures. In addition, human activities, such as biomass burning leads to accumulation of aerosols in the atmosphere and a subsequent rise in global temperatures. Moreover, as human beings cut down trees to create space for agricultural activities and for settlement, they increase the amount of sunlight that reflected from the ground back into space, which causes global warming (Joos and Spahni, 2008).
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Personally, I think that global warming is really taking place. This position is supported by three evidences namely continued rise in global temperatures, shrinking ice sheets, and ocean acidification. Global temperatures have been increasing since 1880 with the largest rise being observed in 1970s. Even though slightly low global temperatures were observed in 2000s, surface temperatures were extremely high between 2007 and 2009. It is anticipated that global temperatures will still continue to increase over the coming years (Shaftel, 2015).
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According to NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been decreasing over the past decade, with the largest drop being observes between 2002 and 2006. Since global temperatures continue to increase, it is anticipated that Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will continue to decrease over the coming years. The acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by approximately 30 percent since the beginning of the industrial revolution. This indicates that human activities continue to emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which are being absorbed into the oceans (Shaftel, 2015).
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Considering the negative impacts of global warming on natural and socioeconomic systems, the government should take immediate action to implement relevant mitigation strategies. The two current mitigation strategies that the government should consider implementing are carbon sequestration and clean coal technology. Carbon sequestration refers to long-term storage of carbon dioxide to mitigate global warming and prevent climate change. The process involves capturing of carbon dioxide from exhausts of fossil fuel power plants before injecting it below the land surface. According to the United States Geological Survey (2008), the rate of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere is likely to double by 2050. There is therefore great need to come up with strategies that can help reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
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Carbon sequestration is an effective mitigation strategy for global warming because it will help to stabilize levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby preventing severe impacts of climate change. The only challenge is that methods of trapping carbon dioxide are costly to implement and the government must put aside enough finances before starting to implement carbon sequestration strategy. In order to ensure that proper actions are taken to trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the government needs to formulate relevant policies to govern the process of carbon sequestration (United States Geological Survey, 2008).
Coal is likely to dominate the global energy sector and there is great need to ensure that the atmosphere is cleaner than ever before. Clean coal technology refers to a combination of technologies that are implemented to ensure improved environmental performance of coal-based electricity plants. Clean coal technology is effective in mitigating global warming because it intends to reduce emissions of coal-based electricity plants, and to improve their operational efficiency (American Coalition for Clean Coal Technology, 2015). This is a very costly strategy to implement because it requires the United States government to invest close to 145 billion United States dollars for it to reduce significant air emissions by 2016. Furthermore, the growth of clean technology will only thrive if it is supported by reasonable regulations. For instance, the New Source Performance Standards for coal-fueled power plants issued by the Environmental Protection Agency is intended to ban new coal-fueled power plants by overlying stringent limits on carbon dioxide emissions (American Coalition for Clean Coal Technology, 2015).
The problem of global warming can effectively be addressed if policies that seek to reduce the amount of heat-trapping emissions are implemented. The good thing is that, possible policies that can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are easy to apply. One of the policies that can help solve the problem of global warming is expansion of the use of renewable energy by transforming the current energy system to one that is independent on coal and fossil fuels. In addition, the government should place limits on the amount of carbon that companies and motor vehicle owners are allowed to emit into the atmosphere. Furthermore, the government should invest in efficient energy industries and technologies to help reduce the release of heat-trapping emissions into the atmosphere. Suppose these policies are implemented, more strict standards should be placed on business sectors that contribute to the largest amount of carbon dioxide emissions. These include the energy sector, industrial sector, transport sector, and technology sector.
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