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The causes and effects of global warming
Global warming is the rapid increase in the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. The rapid increase in temperature is caused by a doubling of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. The problem is mainly caused by humans. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for years. The nonstop burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of the rain forest has caused a greenhouse effect in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The greenhouse effect is the absorption of energy radiated from the Earth's surface by carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to become warmer. The United States is one of the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gases. The main causes of global pollution are electricity generation, transportation, industry, agriculture, residential, and commercial. Some greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, while others are caused only by humans. The three most common naturally occurring greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuel such as oil, natural gas, coal, and wood is burned. Methane is emitted by the production and transportation of such fossil fuels. A large percent of methane also comes from landfills. Also, Nitrous oxide is mostly emitted during agricultural and industrial activities. Man-made gasses such as hydro fluorocarbons, per fluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride are also produced through industrial processes.
The potential effects of global warming can cause some very dramatic and irreversible changes. Global warming affects the earth’s weather, oceans, and ecosystems. An increase in temperature will also lead to an increase in rainfall. Global warming also has a direct effect on the severity of weather. Stronger hurricanes, severe thunderstorms and random climate changes are the result of global warming. Increased evaporation will bring about heavier rains and erosion. The oceans are expanding due to the increase in temperature. Glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate causing sea levels to rise. Melting glaciers decreases algae growth reducing the oceans ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Decreasing algae growth affects the oceans ecosystem. The tiny plankton that feed of algae would die causing larger species of fish that feed on plankton to die. Some species may be forced out of the habitat due to the changing conditions. Few land animals will be unaffected by these types of changes.
It is easy to notice the effects on the ecosystem and animals, but humans will also undergo a large number of consequences. Economic, environmental, and health issues will harm some regions and help others. Agriculture in the mid-latitudes and subtropical regions would suffer due to prolonged drought and a shortened rainy season. The insurance industry will be directly affected by the increase in natural disasters. This will cause insurance premiums to rise and the risk that insurance may become unaffordable in some areas. Subways, highways, and railroads may require more maintenance as they become prone to increased temperature variation. Due to rising sea levels, coastal cities will have to incur the expense of building better coastal defenses. Higher sea levels will also threaten to contaminate groundwater, affecting drinking water. Increased evaporation will decrease the availability of reservoirs. Direct effects on human health would include fewer deaths from cold in the winter, but more heat related deaths during the summer months.
By making a few small changes in our daily routine, the impact we have on the environment can be reduced. Recycling and properly inflating the car’s tires, the use of less energy is just a few ways we can reduce our effect on the environment and keep our world safe for generations to come.