The Disastrous Effects of Global Warming

1118 Words Jun 20th, 2018 5 Pages
Twenty thousand years ago, during the height of the most recent glacial period, ice sheets stretched from New York state across the Great Lakes to Wisconsin northward through most of Canada (Schneider 39). Mile-high domes of ice tied up so much fresh water that the oceans were some 100 meters lower than today. On a global basis, the world warmed up some five degrees Celsius from the beginning of the ice age’s rapid retreat over 15,000 years ago (39). The large and rapid climatic change affected the atmosphere, temperature, and water cycles. Research shows that planet Earth is in fact still warming. Senator Al Gore says this about global warming:
“You see that pale, blue dot? That’s us. Everything that has ever happened in all of human
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Studies show that even small changes in carbon dioxide levels cause significant shifts in global temperature (2). Since the beginning of the twentieth century, human activity has added 925 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere (Goldfarb 341). The slow removal of CO2 from the atmosphere is largely accomplished through biological and chemical processes in the ocean, which can take up to centuries (Schneider 102).
Human activities have enhanced the greenhouse effect by adding the gases to the atmosphere, causing global warming (“Back to Basics” 2). The main human activities are the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) and the clearing of land (Mastrandrea 232). These human activities produce the gases: methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perflurocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) (“Back to Basics” 3). Methane is thirty times more effective at trapping infrared radiation than carbon dioxide, but CO2 is far more prevalent (Schneider 21). Methane has increased in the atmosphere by almost 100% since 1800 (21). Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), man-made chemicals used as a spray can propellants, foam blowers, and refrigerants, are another effective greenhouse gas. CFCs cause about 20% of the greenhouse effect (21).
There is uncertainty about the eventual outcome and what it will mean for life on Earth (Goldfarb 339). Global warming will have both positive and negative impacts that are
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