In the last few years, the world has experienced unusual variations in environmental conditions. From extensive heat waves to droughts, from extreme fluctuations of temperatures to alarming deforestation, the global climate is evermore changing. An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) gases causes heat to be trapped in the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas creates large amounts of CO2. Automobile emissions add to this problem. The resulting gases are trapped in the atmosphere, creating a “greenhouse effect” which affects local environments resulting in what is called global warming.
What is Global Warming?
So what is global warming? The greenhouse effect creates a situation where the climate experiences turbulence on a major scale. Although global warming sounds as if there would be nothing but warming, in actuality, climate change caused by global warming may stimulate large-scale fluctuations in climate – both hot and cold .
What is causing global warming? One of the biggest problems is the use of electric power plants that emit carbon dioxide. In the United States alone, electric power plants emit 40% of total CO2 gases. Another problem is the mass deforestation that is taking place on an international level. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, deforestation now accounts for 10% of the world’s emissions. And of course, the use of vehicles worldwide affects the percentage of carbon emissions released.
Climate change caused by global warming can result in significant problems. Major resources, such as water and energy supplies, could be seriously impacted. Heat waves could cause illnesses and even death. And certain diseases transmitted by food sources are more likely to develop due to drought and high temperatures.
What is the Impact of Global Warming?
One of the biggest problems related to global warming is the melting snow packs and glaciers on sea level. As the earth heats up, major areas which were once solid ice floes have begun to melt and cause land masses to flood. This massive loss of ice caps has affected communities of people and wildlife.
For instance, the Inuit culture of Alaska has been seriously affected by the melting glaciers. The changing polar caps make it difficult for the Inuits to navigate in the lands they’ve lived in for centuries. Their hunting routines have had to change, and many of the animals that live in their area have disappeared. Though their situation may seem extreme, this is just one example of how global warming can affect lifestyles.
Another example is the way rising sea levels from these same melting icecaps can seriously affect coastal communities. Beaches will continue to erode, causing serious problems for local populations. Not only will this affect tourism and recreation, but storms that once blew through these areas with little impact can now cause serious damage. For instance, the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 is attributed to higher sea levels. The speculation is that higher sea level rises gave this “Superstorm” more destructive power.
At the same time, the increase in temperature levels has led to drought in various places. This results in lower water levels, increased wildfires and problems of air pollution and allergies. The effects are worldwide. Tropical deforestation, droughts in various countries including those in the U.S., particularly California, and massive loss of ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctica, have seriously affected many countries.
One of the biggest concerns of global warming continues to be water supplies. In the United States, it is expected that one third of all counties in the lower forty-eight United States will face water shortages by 2050. This worldwide issue will continue to be a problem as global warming increases.
What can you do to Reduce Global Warming?
One of the most important issues that ought to be addressed is the need to limit carbon emissions worldwide. This is easier said than done. Individuals can help reduce their own carbon footprint by limiting their driving time, taking public transportation, carpooling, and recycling so resources can be reused.
Plants can actually assist with reduction of global warming. As plants draw in CO2 they release oxygen via photosynthesis. The stored CO2 helps the plant grow, but if a forest full of such plants are cut down, not only is the CO2 released, but the forest no longer provides oxygen. The result? Faster levels of global warming.
Obviously, forests do more than provide a filter for CO2. They also provide food, shelter, and help regulate clean drinking water for people and wildlife. You can help prevent global warming by working actively against deforestation. Sign petitions, donate to organizations that try to prevent deforestation simply for increased growth, and plant trees on a local basis whenever possible.
How to Help Your Children Deal with Climate Change
What does global warming mean for kids? You may think your children aren’t paying any attention to the global warming documented every week by news organizations and by actual climate change. But they are certainly absorbing this information. They are literally living it.
For children, global warming can seem like a huge, unstoppable agent of change that will destroy the very life they’ve come to know. It’s important for parents to help their children understand that, while this issue is extremely difficult, there are many things each person can do to reduce the impact of global warming.
- Encourage your children to become involved with local scientific organizations that develop various tools for reporting wildlife changes. For instance, they may be able to work with the National Audubon Society to join the Great Backyard Bird Count.
- Or they can join the Citizen Science program which helps to track monarch butterflies.
- They can learn to use less electricity for their electronics by exploring ways to use them more efficiently and learn which ones actually require less power.
- You can also encourage your children to join you in recycling. Get them to ride bikes rather than get car rides from you. Have them help you with major recycling efforts such as collecting used electronics and taking them to an appropriate disposal site.
For further ideas, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Website just for kids.
Even the smallest children can learn to improve their carbon footprint.
- You can ask a toddler to help you sort paper into one bin and plastic into another.
- You can encourage slightly older children to conserve some of the water from their shower to help water plants outdoors.
- And of course, all kids can join you in creating and maintaining a garden to help produce oxygen-generating plants.
It may seem that these small steps can’t possibly overcome the massive changes occurring because of global warming. But if every person in the world began to participate in such programs, the production of harmful emissions would definitely be reduced.
The Future of Global Warming
According to the New York Times, 2014 was the warmest year on record since records began to be kept in 1880. Though some people deny the urgency of global climate changes, it’s important for all citizens of the planet to understand just what global warming is. Each individual can help make changes to the environment in their own personal way.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, there are five methods of fighting global warming:
- Governments should set limits on global pollution.
- A major investment needs to be made in clean energy production which will produce “green jobs”.
- People worldwide must drive “smart” cars to reduce emissions from vehicles.
- Green homes and buildings which reduce the need for power use must be built.
- Communities need to be built with better transportation networks.
It’s very easy to point out all the negatives about global warming without bothering to address the ways in which each individual can combat global climate change. If your children are concerned about global warming, help them learn ways to conserve natural resources. By doing so, you will ensure that you and they become warriors in the fight against global warming.