For the first time in planet earth’s history, one of its inhabitants has acquired the power to change the global climate. By releasing the huge amounts of carbon stored in fossil fuels over millions of years, mankind has disrupted the natural carbon cycle. We have intensified the natural greenhouse effect and turned it into a planetary menace that is melting our ice caps. In his award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore (2006) states, “human activities, if unchecked in the next decade, could destroy one of the earth’s principle mechanisms for cooling itself” (p.291). The world needs to address the potentially disastrous consequences of our earth’s rapidly changing climate by acknowledging the existence of global warming and understanding its impact on the present and future generations.
The greenhouse effect is a natural process that keeps the earth at temperatures that are livable. Energy from the sun warms the earth when its heat rays are absorbed by greenhouse gasses and become trapped in the atmosphere. Some of the most common greenhouse gasses are water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane. If there were no greenhouse gasses, very few rays would be absorbed and the earth would be extremely cold. When too many rays are absorbed the earth’s atmosphere heats up and it causes what we know as global warming. Al Gore (2006) described the greenhouse effect as the potentially most dangerous environmental problem facing mankind, with consequences second only to nuclear war (p.299). As the name suggests, global warming isn’t merely affecting parts of the world, it is threatening the world globally.
Most of the rays from the sun are absorbed by water vapor that is naturally in our atmosphere. Water vapor accounts for eighty percent of natural greenhouse warming. The remaining twenty percent is due to other gasses that are present in very small amounts. When talking about the atmosphere and its components, we measure the concentration of gas in parts per million (ppm) (Kluger, 2006, p. 318). Kluger states:
“During the last ice age, the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide concentration was just 180 ppm, putting the Earth into a deep freeze. After the glaciers retreated, but before the dawn of the modern era, the total had risen to a comfortable 280 ppm. In just the past century and a half, we have pushed the level to 381 ppm, and we’re feeling the effects.” (2006, p.318)
The effects we are feeling, is the rising temperatures caused by the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. According to Kluger, 19 of the 20 hottest years ever recorded happened in the 80’s or later and according the NASA scientists, 2005 was the hottest year of the century (2006, p.319).
Everything on earth was created with a careful balance. Flowers make pollen, bees harvest the pollen to make honey, the pollen is brought from flower to flower by the bees and it creates new flowers. Take away the bees, and the flower can no longer...