EssaysForStudent.com - Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes
Search

Environmental Effects of Global Warming

By:   •  Research Paper  •  1,725 Words  •  May 7, 2010  •  594 Views

Page 1 of 7

Environmental Effects of Global Warming

Environmental Effects of Global Warming The greenhouse effect and global warming are issues that are talked about by geologists all the time. 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 starts to warm, which leads to global warming. Americans are the leading cause for this phenomenon and our behavior is leading to many problems that are affecting the environment in which we live. In order to talk about global warming, we must first learn what causes the greenhouse effect. A lot of the rays from the sun are absorbed by water vapor that is naturally in our atmosphere. Water vapor accounts for "80 percent of natural greenhouse warming. The remaining 20 percent is due to other gasses that are present in very small amounts" (Murck, Skinner and Porter 488). Carbon dioxide is also a big absorber of the sun's heat rays. Humans can cause a lot of carbon dioxide to be released. Every time we burn fossil fuels, we release more carbon dioxide. Emissions from cars also increase the Rounds 2 amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere more rays from the sun are absorbed. This will cause the atmosphere and the earth's temperature to warm. The warming of the earth will cause the oceans to become warmer. When they heat up, more water is evaporated, causing more carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere. Once this process starts, it is extremely hard to control. If the temperature keeps rising, more carbon dioxide will be released. Another greenhouse gas is methane: "Methane absorbs infrared radiation 25 times more effectively than carbon dioxide, making it an important greenhouse gas despite its relatively low concentration" (490). There have been many studies on how methane is released into the atmosphere. Methane in the atmosphere is "generated by biological activity related to rice cultivation, leaks in domestic and industrial gaslines, and the digestive process of domestic livestock, especially cattle" (490). An environmental effect of global warming is the fact that higher temperatures will lead to a change in the water cycle. Some places may experience more rain. Warmer temperatures will cause a greater amount of evaporation from lakes, rivers, and oceans. In some areas this could be good, and in others it could be considered bad. In northern regions of the United States, an increase in the temperature and amount of rain could actually extend the growing season of crops. This would in turn mean more money for farmers in the northern region. It could also hurt some farmers. Too much rain is bad for some crops. Certain areas will actually get less rain, which would lead to more droughts and have a negative impact on crops. Warm and wet weather is usually a factor Rounds 3 that promotes tropical storms. Global warming would lead to tropical storms' appearing with greater frequency. More rain will also force plant life to adjust. Forests and plant life migrates naturally, but scientists say that global warming would cause them to migrate at a much faster rate. If the climate changes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, "some forest species in North America will shift by as much as 300 miles to the north" (www.pirg.org/enviro/global_w/fact.htm). If a region is getting more rain and plants on the border of that region need rain to survive, they will naturally begin growing in the new region. The Environmental Media Services Organization has found that the greenhouse effect "could drive global temperatures up as much as 6 degrees by the year 2100 - an increase in heat comparable to the 10 degree warming that ended the last ice age" (www.ems.org/climate/sub2_html). If a ten-degree warming was the factor that ended the ice age, imagine what another warming by about that same amount could do. Scientists believe that a warming of only 6 degrees would cause glaciers to melt at a high rate. This would cause an increase in the level of the oceans. According to the article "Turning up the Heat: How Global Warming Threatens Life in the Sea," coastal cities and islands would be in danger of flooding if the ocean levels rose: "Only a 1-cm rise in sea level can erode a full 1 meter of beach" (Berntson and Mathews-Amos www.worldwildelife.org/news/pups/wwf_ocean.htm). Sea ice would also be susceptible to melting, which would raise the water level even more. Global warming will not just make sea levels

Continue for 6 more pages »  •  Join now to read essay Environmental Effects of Global Warming
Download as (for upgraded members)
txt
pdf