Global warming is one of the major challenges that humans face in the 21st century. What do you know about global warming and what are its effects?
The 18th and 19th centuries were the industrial eras. During this time, massive quantities of fossil fuels were burnt in factories around the world. Burning of fossil fuels leads to the production of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide.
So, what is a greenhouse gas?
Many of you may have visited a greenhouse. A greenhouse is a building that is covered by glass on all sides. The glass allows heat inside the building, but it does not allow the heat to escape from the building. This, it traps heat within the building. Greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide act in a similar manner. These gasses trap the heat produced by the sun within the earth?s atmosphere. Therefore, the temperature of the earth?s (including ocean surface) surface increases. Greenhouse effect is the name of this phenomena. Apart from carbon dioxide, the other major contributors to the greenhouse effect are oxides of nitrogen and sulfur and methane.
Cattle produce copious amounts of methane (in their gut). Therefore, large-scale cattle farming leads to increased release of methane and is an important cause of global warming.
Simply put, global warming is the gradual increase in earth?s temperature due to the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
How does global warming affect us?
Global warming affects us in many ways. We have heard from our parents and grandparents that the summers are becoming hotter, and winters are reduced in duration in intensity. This (climatic changes) is an outcome of global warming.
Global warming has more sinister outcomes as well. The average temperature has increased by over 2 C in the past one century. The increase in temperature leads to melting glaciers and polar ice caps. This (melting of ice) results in an increase in sea levels. As sea levels increase, low-lying coastal areas get flooded leading to the displacement of millions of human beings living in these regions. Global warming also leads to rapid melting of glaciers. Glaciers are the source of almost all rivers in the world. Rapid melting of glaciers leads to floods along the course of rivers. Apart from these, global warming also leads to unpredictable climate changes like droughts, extremely severe winters, and massive hail storms. Global warming also leads to reduced agricultural productivity thus impacting food security.
What is the relationship between global warming and other forms of pollution like noise pollution?
Apart from atmospheric pollution, water pollution, and noise pollution are also increasing due to human activities. Do these forms of pollution have any relationship with global warming?
Water pollution makes water unfit for consumption. But, it does not increase the temperature of the water. Therefore, water pollution is unlikely to contribute to global warming. Similarly, noise pollution also does not contribute to global warming. On the contrary, global warming may contribute to noise pollution.
Let us do an experiment to demonstrate this effect. Take some ice cubes in a glass and pour hot water over the cubes. What do you see?
You will note that the ice cubes crack and break into small pieces before melting. When the ice cracks, it produces sound, thus leading to noise pollution.
Many researchers have studied the disintegration of icebergs and its effects on the marine environment. They (researchers) have found that the noise produced by disintegration of icebergs is equal to the noise produced by hundred supertankers. The noise produced by breaking of ice affects marine animals and leads to deleterious consequences to the marine ecology.
To conclude, global warming is a major challenge to the human race in the 21st century. If we do not act now, then it may be too late.
More class 10 science notes.