Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface. It has a lot of the negative effects of making the Earth’s surface warmer as compared to previous years. Such warming effect is also referred to as the greenhouse effect. Accordingly, the global average temperature has increased about 0.7 to 1.4 degrees F (0.4 to 0.8 degrees C) since the late 1800’s and many experts estimate that the average temperature will rise an additional 2.5 to 10.4 degrees F (1.4 to 5.8 degrees C) by 2100 in which, that rate of increase would be much larger than most past rates of increase. The Constitutional Rights Foundation explained how the greenhouse effect works. Radiation from the Sun in short wavelengths easily pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and strike the surface, which reflects much of it back as longer wavelengths. Instead of going back into space, the longer wavelengths are absorbed by gases in the atmosphere. The atmosphere reflects back to the Earth’s surface a significant amount of the trapped radiation, which becomes heat. There are many possible causes of global warming. However, for the past several years, NASA noted that most of the causes of global warming are man-made activities.
According to Constitutional Right Foundation group, the burning of fossil fuel is the top list of man-made activities that largely contribute to global warming and this occurs in automobiles, in factories, and in electric power plants that provide energy for houses and office buildings. The burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide (CO2), a chemical element that slows the escape of heat into space. Moreover, Ramsey and Burckley said that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air would strongly influence climate because of the ability of this gas to trap radiated heat (p. 608 – 609).
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC’s) report, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere if no measures will be adapted to mitigate its production double by 2100. This will cause an average increase in the global surface temperature between 3.5F and 10F. The rate of temperature increase during the century will very likely be greater than at any time in the last 10,000 years.
Global warming is a very vital issue and states must deal with it seriously to moderate if not to stop it from getting worse. It is because more scientists agree that global warming has more of negative effects rather than positive ones. It could make the weather unpredictable and more damaging as it could produce rainfalls that can increase flooding in some areas but could bring drought to some. It could also make hurricanes and other tropical storms more powerful and in frequent occurrences. Extreme flooding and drought could lessen food production in a high rate that could lead to extreme famine in many parts of the world. This research will explore the immediate consequences of global warming and examine the loopholes in implementing plus effectiveness of the policies and agreement reached among international communities.
The most dangerous thing that the global warming could bring is the melting of ice in many ice regions of the world, particularly in the West Antarctica. Dangerous because according to scientists, melting of ice in these regions could cause rising of the sea level entire the world. If the sea level rise, many coastal areas would experience flooding, erosion, a loss of wetlands, and an entry of seawater into freshwater areas . High sea levels would submerge some coastal cities, small island nations, and other inhabited regions. Thus, rising of the sea level could mean loss of many lives and properties in many parts of the world.
In great recognition of these possible damages that could be brought about by global warming, the Constitutional Rights Foundation reported that in 1997, more than 160 nations met at Kyoto, Japan, to work out a treaty requiring reductions of greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions known as the Kyoto Treaty, it is one of the initial steps made by the concerned states to mitigate carbon emissions up to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2015 and thus slow down the happening of the pre-determined effects of global warming.
However, the treaty is not without any lapses. First, the treaty did not specify methods that nations have to use to reduce their (CO2) emissions. And second, there was a proposed exemption of all economically developing countries from any mandatory limits on their emissions because such limits would severely weaken their economic development. As a result, then President George W. Bush withdrew in 2001 the United States from the Kyoto Treaty arguing that its percentage requirements for greenhouse gas reductions would cost Americans millions of jobs. Even though it did not stop the ratification of the treaty as 180 nations met without the United States to implement the treaty.
America’s failure to ratify Kyoto is widely viewed as a scandal. According to Kolbert, “the Administration’s effort to block a post-Kyoto agreement is every bit as dangerous because without the participation of the United States, no meaningful agreement can be drafted for the post of 2012 period, and the world will have missed what may well be its last opportunity to alter course”. Instead of supporting the treaty, the Bush administration made its “own plan” in 2002 of reducing its greenhouse gas emission. However, said plans seemed futile because according to the latest government figures in the year 2003, the country’s CO2 emissions are now three per cent higher than they were three years ago (Kolbert, 2010).
So what should the United States about global warming? Before answering the question, let us take first a look on the contribution of the United States to this worldwide problem and the current effects and possible effects of global warming to this country. As quoted by ECOMII, the United States contains only 5% of the world’s population, but contributes 22% of the world’s carbon emissions. The said figure translates to Americans contributing an equivalent of 54,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person per year or about five times the emissions of the average global citizen (quoted in Does the United States deserve its bad rap?). Coal-burning power plants contribute the most in carbon dioxide emissions 2.5 billion tons every year while cars contribute the second largest amount: nearly 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. The average person in the U.S. throws away 1,130 pounds of waste per year that translates to 1,060 pounds of carbon dioxide drifting up into the atmosphere. And lastly, approximately 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide CO2 equivalents almost 9,000 pounds per person per year about 17% of total U.S. emissions are emitted from people’s homes.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) explained the effects of global warming in the United States of America. Rising seas would severely impact the United States as well. Scientists project as much as a 3-foot sea-level rise by 2100 and it would severely impact the United States as well. The NDRC also quoted a study of a the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study in 2001, saying that the increase in sea level would inundate some 22,400 square miles of land along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas, Florida and North Carolina.
Many studies revealed that the United States of America is one of the leading contributors of gases that cause global warming, particularly the carbon dioxide. Americans produce nearly a quarter of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions (Kolbert, 2010). About 75 percent of CO2 emissions come from burning fossil fuels and Americans produce more than their share of these emissions and are responsible for 35 percent of all greenhouse gases ever produced by humans. Therefore, the US Government should be serious in dealing with this problem and set aside economic competition to solve the problem. It should cooperate with other nations, most especially to the members of the Kyoto Treaty, in solving the problem since this is not only America’s problem, but the world’s problem. The United States of America is looked upon as a world leader in almost all aspects. The success or the failure of America in dealing with the problem of global warming will indicate the success or the failure of the world in combating this problem as well.
Carbon dioxide is largely responsible for the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere (Tarbuck and Lutgens, 2002). However, the best thing America could do at the moment is to provide stiff legislation to cut the production of carbon dioxide that will also mitigate the (possible) effects of global warming in its own place and have it seriously implemented so that it will gain the respect of other nations and so that other nations will make America as a model in combating the problem of global warming.
In conclusion, there is growing number of evidences and support for mitigating global warming. Most notable steps to curb global warming begin with Kyoto protocol. However, there was one big party i.e. US declined to yield in to the commitment. This largely hampered the effectiveness of implementing the agreed terms and conditions of Kyoto protocol. It is however very critical time for the US and other industrial nations to form consensus to achieve the carbon footprint target. Last but not least, the research from reputable agencies suggest global warming as biggest threat to world affecting economy , social , and cultural aspects of our life.
“Does the United States deserve its bad rap?”. ECOMII. Retrieved on March 27, 2013 from
“Global Warming”. NASA. Retrieved on March 27, 2013 from
“Global Warming Puts the Arctic on Thin Ice”. Natural Resources Defense Council. Retrieved
on March 27, 2013 from http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/qthinice.asp
“Global Warming: What Should We Do About It?”. Constitutional Rights Foundation.
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Kolbert, E.(2010). Global Warming. The New Yorker. Retrieved
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Ramsey, W. & Burckley, R(2001). Modern Earth Science. Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
Inc. New York. p. 608 – 609
Tarbuck, E. & Lutgens, F.(2002). Earth Science: Basic Principles and Concepts. Pearson Education, Inc. New Jersey, p. 539