Global warming has become a major environmental issue in the 21st century. Global warming as a climatic aspect refers to the continuous rise of temperature in the Earth’s atmosphere. The issue of Global Warming has dominated discussions in the media, among scientists and politicians as well as the public. The debate as to the cause of the global warming phenomenon is all split in the middle, with one side of discussion suggesting that it is a natural cycle while others are of the belief that is human induced i.e. anthropogenic global warming. Climate change has been occurring since the past, warming and cooling in turns for different reasons, albeit of human action. Governments, policy makers and institutions have fronted a number of interventions to counter the effects of global warming, some of which are currently being implemented.
From the face of it, it is convincing that human action is largely, if not entirely, responsible for the global warming happening at the moment. This is because the human industrial and domestic activities since the period of industrial revolution has resulted in increased levels of carbon dioxide, 35 percent higher relative to what it was almost 200 years ago (Singer 45). Such human activities detrimental to the environment include industrialization, pollution, and deforestation which have considerably raised the concentrations carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and methane. All these are greenhouses gases with greater affinity for infrared (heat) radiation. Methane, for instance, accounts for 5 percent of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (produced by coal and gas industries, rice paddies and wetlands etc) does reflect the sun’s light back to Earth (Dutch 69). This serves to legitimize the suggestion that increased practice of humans to burn fossil fuel over the years is directly responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect.
The argument casting the blame squarely on human action is countered by aspect that climate change has always occurred naturally, in cycles. Scientific evidence attest to the fact that natural warming factors have frequently warmed the climate even before the existence of human being on earth, and indeed, prior to the industrial revolution period of the 18th century (Dutch 89). These natural factors include solar variability, changes in the Earth’s orbit, continental drift, mountain-building, and volcanic eruptions. Geological records reveal a constant 1,500-year cycle of both warming and cooling going back at least a million years. Similarly, the period before the Holocene epoch (about 11,000 years ago) is known to have experienced global warming following the end of the last ice age – the Medieval Warm Period (Singer 52). The Holocene epoch period was characterized by a fairly stable global climate in spite of the global expansion in human life and increased farm production together with domestication of animals. In view of these, therefore, human-induced increases of CO2 levels are negligible to the whole aspect of climate change, particularly global warming.
The major action being taken against global warming is trying to reduce the high amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere. This response involves green measures such as reforestation, use of alternative fuels, and using recyclable products (Brown 74). Such efforts are being championed by environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club. Countries across the world are taking steps to significantly increase their fuel efficiency standards for automobiles while rich nations are undertaking climate financing for poor countries.
However, it must be admitted that the efforts geared to slowing globalization are highly insufficient. There have been the unsuccessful two-decade UN talks to substantially reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and to maintain the global temperature rise below 2°C (Dutch 62). This is because there is lack of global goodwill towards achieving the goal as those most responsible emitting high amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have not lent their full cooperation to such treaties as the Kyoto Protocol. The world is currently highly dependent on factories, vehicles, and other electronics that consume a lot of fuels and electricity which contribute to pollution.
Each one of us can contribute by cutting down on pollution through such actions as driving less, taking bikes, walking or carpooling whenever possible. People can also save on energy by replacing the bulbs in their homes with energy-efficient bulbs (Brown 45). Only energy-efficient home appliances should be purchased and make sure to unplug the electronics when not in use. We can also consider using low-flow showerhead which will lessen the amount of hot water used while maintaining the water pressure in the shower. Similarly, we should run the clothes washer and dishwasher only we have a full load, better still turn to the energy-saving setting and use environmental friendly non-toxic cleaning products (Singer 78). It would also help if each of us brings their own reusable canvas shopping bags and buy recycled paper products.
The debate as to whether the current global warming has been caused by actions of human beings or is a natural cycle has persisted for quite some time and it is bound to be around for a long time. Global warming skeptics hold that human beings have nothing to do with the negative climate change while proponents argue to the contrary. In the end, the skeptics present a more convincing argument. However, it is clear that as human we have our fair share of contribution towards global warming and there is plenty we can do to reduce it and save the planet for our subsequent generations.