Simply defined Global Warming is a term used to define the heating of the Earths atmosphere, surface and oceans. Global temperatures have been tracked since the 1850’s, though in the UK Midlands a reliable temperature reading has been taken once a month, every months since 1659.
In the past 100 year the Earth’s average global temperature has risen by 1.4oF according to records held and data released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With increased pollutants and air contaminants coupled with the rising trend of environmentally unsound travel and industry it is predicted that the global temperature will raise anywhere between and additional 2 and 11oF in the next century.
Almost all of the worlds leading scientific bodies recognise that global warming is a very real and very presents threat. It is key to point out that there are natural rises and dips in global temperatures, however; more than 97% of climate scientists believe that the current global warming growth is not natural and is in fact a direct impact of human activity.
The Greenhouse Effect
The ‘Greenhouse Effect’ is where solar radiation passes through the Earths atmosphere and hits the Earth’s surface, where it is absorbed and then gradually radiated back upward as heat. It then interacts with gases in our atmosphere, which absorb up to 90% and radiate it back to the surface. This is one of the many factors which makes earth habitable, as a planet. The remaining percentage that is lost through the atmosphere simply emits out into space.
As ‘Greenhouse Gases’ continue to increase in our atmosphere, more and more of this hear will stay on the earth, being absorbed and radiated back and forth between the surface and our atmosphere, meaning perpetual temperature increases, or ‘Global Warming’.
‘Greenhouse Gases’ are a set of pollutant gases which ‘hang around’ in our atmosphere once produced, which absorb the emitted heat and return it to the Earth’s surface. The most common of these gases are Water Vapor, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and of these gases CO2 is the main offender and is also the gas produced most abundantly by industry and travel.
Prior to the industrial revolution (1760 – 1820/40) there was roughly 280 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the earth atmosphere, which naturally fluctuates between 180 – 280ppm depending on ice age or inter-glacial warming periods. However; in December of 2015 the volume was measured at 401ppm, which is the highest this figure has ever been.
How are we Making CO2?
The two biggest ways modern life creates CO2 emissions are Burning of Fossil Fuels and Deforestation. Burning of fossil fuels is simple, a by product of the burning / combustion process is CO2, lesser thought of and known, is how deforestation contributes to Global Warming.
When tress are alive, they absorb CO2 for use in a natural process called photosynthesis, when a tree is killed it releases all the stored CO2 back into the atmosphere, each tree killed really double the CO2 problem, not only are you releasing more of it back into the atmosphere but you also remove something which can store the gas and reduce global levels. according to 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment, deforestation account for almost 1 billion tons of carbon emissions per year.
Methane is the second most common ‘Greenhouse Gas’, it also happens to be more destructive. Common human sources of Methane include mining, use of natural gas, livestock / cattle and landfills.