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The Harsh Reality of Global Warming

by David Terr

100 Years of Temperature Rise Due to Greenhouse Gases. In 2005, the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that during the past 100 years, the average global temperature near the earth's surface had risen approximately 1.32 degrees Fahrenheit (0.74 degrees Celsius) and that this change was most likely due to the increased level of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, due to burning of fossil fuels (coil, oil, and natural gas).

More Temperature Rise Expected. Furthermore, it has been estimated that during the 21st century, global temperatures will rise an additional 2.0 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius).

Sea Levels Will Rise and Massive Migration Will Ensue. This is likely to have drastic and serious consequences, mainly a rise in sea level of 4 to 30 inches (110 to 770 mm) by 2100. As a result, coastal areas, which include a large fraction of the world's population, are likely to be drastically affected in the near future. That population will be forced to migrate away from the coast.

The Greenhouse Effect is Well Understood. So why would a rise in the CO2 level in the atmosphere result in an increase in global temperatures? This effect, known as the greenhouse effect, is well-studied and well-understood. It is the same effect which causes greenhouses to trap heat inside, becoming warmer than the outside temperature. Greenhouses are made of glass, which although transparent to visible light, is opaque (not transparent) to infrared radiation.

Relationship Between CO2 and Temperature. As a result, greenhouses absorb heat from the sun in the form of visible light, but do not allow it to be re-radiated in the form of infrared radiation, which is how objects at ordinary temperatures cool down. In the same way, the carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere traps in light from the sun while not allowing it to be re-radiated as heat, since CO2, like glass, is also opaque to infrared radiation. The higher the level of atmospheric CO2, the more the atmosphere will warm up. During the past 50 years, the CO2 level has risen from 315 to 385 parts per million (PPM), and is still rising.

Sea Level Rise, Storms, Hurricanes, Massive Migration, Agriculture, and Ecosystems. The effects of global warming are likely to be disastrous in many ways. Increasing global temperatures are likely to result in increasing precipitation in most areas. Storms and hurricanes may also become more common in the future. As mentioned earlier, rising sea levels may result in tremendous economic damage to coastal cities as well as massive migration from coastal areas. Agriculture is also likely to be affected, due to crops which cannot adapt to the climate change brought about by global warming. Also, many ecosystems are sure to be affected, resulting in endangerment and extinction of many species of animals and plants.

Scientific Community is Unanimous. In conclusion, global warming is a very serious problem affecting us all. The scientific community is unanimously convinced that it is the result of human activity, in particular, the release of greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels. Global warming cannot be stopped entirely, but its potential damage can be minimized by lessening our dependence on fossil fuels. We need to change our lifestyles in order to protect our children and grandchildren and leave them a world they can be proud of!



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