As we all are aware, the average global temperature has been rising due to increase in greenhouse gases. But we should know that the greenhouse effect is not a villain in itself. If it does not take place then the Earth will be ice cold with below zero centigrade average temperature. So, how does greenhouse effect happen? To put it in simple terms, the sun’s rays do not reach the surface of the Earth 100 percent. Almost half of the solar radiation falls on the surface of the Earth. A part of the solar radiation on the surface of the Earth goes into space, which is called Infrared Radiation.
A small portion of the heat of the infrared radiation and most of the remaining part is absorbed by atmospheric gases (mainly carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)). The molecules of these gases throw the energy of the rays back on the surface of the Earth. The water, vapour and carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere have a good power to absorb the sun’s energy and prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from coming to the Earth. But, it is a different matter that as we have exploited the natural resources so much that there is now an abnormal increase in the greenhouse effect due to which the Earth is becoming unusually hot.
Global Warming Facts
After this basic information, let’s try to learn some useful and interesting facts about global warming:
# Global warming has resulted in shrinking of glaciers, disappearance of vegetation, increase in diseases and the risk of extinction of many species.
# During the period of 1990-2000 AD, more than 60000 people worldwide died due to natural disasters.
# 2014 was considered the hottest year. Earlier, 2010 was considered to be the warmest year.
# In the last few years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased rapidly. Increased carbon dioxide emission is considered to be the main cause of global warming. Due to the indiscriminate use of coal and petroleum products, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing constantly. More than 40% of the electricity in the world is produced by coal-fired power plants.
# According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in the last 250 years, the amount of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere of the Earth has increased from 280 ppm (part per million) to 379 ppm. According to the IPCC, rapid changes started in the year 1800.
# About 45 to 50 percent of the temperature rise between 1900 and 2000 is due to the effect of the radiation of the sun.
# IPCC statistics show that in 2007, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was 430 ppm. The emission of greenhouse gases has increased very fast in the rich and developed countries (16 percent in USA, and 25-30 percent in Canada and Australia).
# In addition to carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane, ozone and nitrous oxide also contribute to heating the atmosphere.
# It is estimated that by increase of one degree in temperature, there is an increase of about 7 percent in evaporation. The contribution of steam in producing greenhouse effect is the most, i.e., 36 to 70 percent. Carbon dioxide contributes 9 to 26 percent, methane contributes 4 to 9 percent, and ozone gas contributes 3 to 7 percent of greenhouse effect.
# Due to global warming, there is a danger of the extinction of 20 to 30 percent of the Earth’s plants. There is the risk of adverse weather, hot winds, flooding in coastal areas, drought, fall in agricultural production, spread of disease-causing germs, increase in water level, seawater temperature and acidity.
# It is estimated that as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, sea water will become more acidic. The effect of this acidic water will be on the cold-water coral reef and sea species of snails.
# Every sixth person will suffer from water distress. Rainfall will decrease, with the increase of five times the drought areas, millions of people will become water refugees. Due to lack of water, there will be serious danger to the lives of wild animals and about 40 percent of species will disappear.
# The facts on global warming state that unusual weather conditions are increasing, the quantity, intensity and distribution of rain are changing. Due to less rain, the drought-prone and desert areas are increasing.
# According to scientists, in the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, it is possible that the temperature may increase up to three degrees centigrade by 2100. Apart from the increase in evaporation, due to this change, there is a risk of the loss of 80 to 100 percent coral-reef in the western Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, Middle East and West Indies by 2080.
# The highest snowfall on Earth is in the North Pole (Greenland) and the South Pole (Antarctica). These are the areas where most of the cold falls but the atmosphere of Greenland and Antarctica is getting hot now.
# It is estimated that if all the Greenland ice melts then sea levels will increase by about seven meters. Due to this increase, many cities like the Maldives, Mumbai, which have settled along the sea, will be submerged in water.
# The facts on global warming show that in recent years, the average temperature of Greenland has increased by 5 degrees Celsius and the speed of ice melting is increasing year after year. The world’s second-largest ice reservoir after Antarctica is in Greenland Island.
# According to scientists, Greenland and Antarctica are the barometers of climate change in the world. It is a well-known that current sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are the remnants of the ice age.
# In the last 10 years, the incidence of snowfall in the South Pole has increased by 75 percent and water level in the oceans has accordingly been rising.
# Due to human activities and astronomical reasons, areas with oxygen deficiency (numbers) in seawater are increasing. Significantly, in 2003, the number of areas with oxygen deficiency was 149 which increased to 200 in 2006. Due to this change, fish production has decreased in affected areas.
# According to the World Bank, due to climate change, the world economy may be reduced by around 20 percent.
# Due to reckless use of fossil fuels, America is the greatest contributor to air pollution. It is responsible for 25% global air pollution.
# The maximum amount of carbon dioxide in the Northern Hemisphere is in the last phase of the spring and the lowest amount is in the growth period of crops.
# According to a UNICEF report, 69 million children in the world are directly affected by global warming and 53 million children have been facing severe floods and storms.
# Due to global warming, water availability will be reduced in 68 percent of India’s geographical area, where there are signs of rain erosion. Consequently, the speed of drying of rivers, the pollution of ground water, the amount of polluted water, and the quantity of harmful and toxic substances will increase in the food grains, the problem of untreated sewage will be severe and the diseases will increase.
# Due to the decrease in water availability, it will be necessary to find new ways of disposing of hazardous chemicals and ensuring personal hygiene in life. In these areas, large and medium dams built earlier will reduce the availability of ground water and the area of irrigation will also be reduced.
# Drinking water will become extremely difficult in some areas and some parts of the population will become water-refugees. The area of wasteland will increase, forest will dry and the density of forests will be reduced. The area of Thar Desert will expand and many species will be extinct forever.
# A study of the Department of Oceanography of Jadavpur University states that due to water rising above sea level, approximately 50,000 people living in the eastern and western parts of the Sundarbans will be affected. According to the study, in the last 30 years, 100 square kilometres of Sundarbans and two of its island (Lohamara and Supardanga) in the last 22 years have been submerged in the sea.
# Odisha’s coastal coastline is the most sensitive in this case. Around 800 square kilometres of the state’s land is likely to be submerged due to increasing one meter water level. It is to be noted that more than 150 families of Kahanpur and Satabhaya villages of Kendrapara district had to retreat due to rising sea level. In recent years, sea waves have made Chilka Lake’s water saline and its original properties are on the verge of change.
# The ecosystem of abundant vegetation (mangrove) on the beach is in danger due to the erosion of land by the sea. In the last 50 years, the mangroves of more than 1000 square kilometres of Odisha have been reduced to only 219 sq km. According to official figures, the entire Delta area of Mahanadi was covered by mangrove vegetation by the year 1940. In 1960, to make Paradip port, about 2500 hectares of mangroves was extinguished, since then the effect of sea storms on this area has increased significantly.
# As per the facts about global warming, of the six gases responsible for global warming in the world, three gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are produced by large dams. A recent study by Evan Lima of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has shown that 20 percent of global warming effect in India is due to large dams.
# As per this study, large dams of India produce almost 33.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year. The contribution of reservoirs is 1.1 million tonnes, spillway contributes 13.2 million tonnes and dams generating electricity from the water contribute 19.2 million tonnes of gases.
# Worldwide, the contribution of different countries to increase the amount of gases in the environment varies in terms of industrialization, increasing human activities and modern lifestyle.
# According to facts on global warming, India’s greenhouse gas contribution is only 3 percent, which is negligible compared to the contribution of advanced countries.
# In Kyoto, there was an annual conference in 1997, on the need for reduction of carbon emissions from which many developed countries retreated later on. Developing countries were supposed to adopt a clean development mechanism. The Kyoto Protocol was initiated so that the poorer countries could also achieve the sustainable goal of development and the rich countries could reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases to keep the aggregate amount of greenhouse gases in check.
# Another agreement, Paris Climate Accord was signed on the lines of the Kyoto Protocol by the UNFCCC countries in the 21st annual meeting in Paris in 2015. It was decided that the rich countries will fund the poor countries’ investment in developing clean energy technologies.
# New methods for industrial production need to be discovered by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. All this calls for the use of low-carbon emission vehicles, new methods for the disposal of water in construction, purifying water, energy conservation, and minimal use of nitrogen fertilizers.
# Renewable energy sources decrease fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas products.
# The maximum use of biodiesel and ethanol in vehicles is advisable. The International Energy Agency estimates that by implementing the use of fuel efficiency and biofuels, annual emissions of carbon dioxide can be reduced to 14 billion tonnes by 2030. It will lead to about 60 percent reduction in petrol expenditure.
# To reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, the maximum use of solar energy is called for. The use of solar energy does not cause carbon dioxide or any other type of greenhouse gases. The Barmer block in Rajasthan has the enough capacity to generate solar energy.
# To reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, wind power should also be tapped optimally. Electricity produced using the wind power does not produce carbon dioxide or any other harmful gases. Use of wind energy reduces dependence on coal.
# Decreasing forest land increases the amount of greenhouse gases, so, forestation is recommended to increase the Earth’s green cover.
# However, according to a research, trees are not the sole solution to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere; because, their ability to absorb carbon dioxide is decreasing due to temperature constraints.
# In order to avoid the adverse effects of greenhouse gases, all countries have to adopt the energy generating processes in which carbon is not used.
# Rich countries must reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, and poor countries need to be given exemption with regard to greenhouse gas emissions till their development needs are met.
# In short, citizens of all countries will have to bring their greenhouse gases emission in the fixed emission limit.
These were some of the major facts about global warming that will help you understand the gravity of the environmental problem facing the world today.