Global warming and climate change
Posted on September 9th, 2012

Dr Hector Perera          London

This is a problem that will never go away easily. The use of fossil fuels to meet the world’s energy needs is a contributor to an increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs) mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane in the Earth’s atmosphere. There is a widespread view that this increase is leading to climate change, with adverse effects on the environment.

Each individual can help cut down or reduce this climate change if they use fossil fuel sensibly or efficiently. In one of the reports it is mentioned that a reduction of just 5 percent in global energy use would save the equivalent of more than 10 million barrels of oil per day enough energy to power Australia, Mexico and the United Kingdom. In a way, energy efficiency is one of the most economical sources of new energy. If energy is efficiently used there are many advantages such as, it reduces the carbon emission, lowers the money spent on energy such as gas then we can conserve the supply we have or use it for a longer time. When fuel is burnt or in the process of oxidation, carbon dioxide is given off as a by product, that is quite normal. We might get the wrong idea that carbon dioxide is a totally useless gas but in a way it protects the earth getting colder by acting as an insulator. Natural greenhouse gases include atmospheric water vapour and carbon dioxide. These gases act as an insular blanket by retaining heat from the sun which keeps the earth warm. Without this blanket of gases, the earth would be much colder than it is. The problem arises if there are more gases or emission of carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuel. Then it traps heat so that it has plenty of adverse effects. There are many adverse effects due to green house gases, two of them are flooding and drought.

Flooding and drought will wipe out wheat and maize harvests, triggering ‘dramatic’ rises in prices, one of the report said.

Oxfam said the full impact of climate change on prices is underestimated and will affect British consumers who are paying more for food before extreme weather is factored in. Its report, titled Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices, said a US drought in 2030 could raise the price of maize by as much as 140 per cent above the average price of food, which is already likely to be double today’s prices.

At the same time, drought and flooding in southern Africa could increase the consumer price of grain by 120 per cent.

Oxfam climate change policy adviser Tim Gore said: ‘The world needs to wake up to the consequences facing our food system of climate inaction.’

Futures studies show that global temperatures may rise by the end of the 21st century to between 1.1 and 6.4 degree Celsius above the mid 1990 levels, if concrete steps are not taken to tackle increased levels of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The people go on holiday to hot countries when their own country is colder than some other countries but soon that might change. I know for fact that tourists rush to Sri Lanka due to many reasons but the main reason is the hot sunny weather conditions.

Extreme weather conditions

Climate change can increase the frequency of heat waves, floods and drought conditions around the world. In various reports, Nature, the international weekly journal of science notes that recent summers in Europe have become increasingly hotter. Holiday makers from Britain pack into some cities in Europe just for the weather and it is nearer to Britain, it’s just across the English Channel.  It attributes the changes in weather conditions to high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It forecasts that Europe (including the UK) may experience even hotter summers in the future so they not be quite keen to cross the channel for hotter countries.

Just not humans but animals and plants as well are affected by the weather patterns.  Forecasts show that some of 30% of land based bird species could become extinct if temperatures continue to rise rapidly. Birds and animals migrate to different parts of the world to escape the winter weather conditions but if the pattern is disturbed, these innocent animals are also getting affected. Climate change if not checked will also have a negative impact on plants, insect species and on parts of the world’s rain forests. Unusual rain and sun might destroy flowering so that most harvest of corn, paddy or even fruits and vegetables are affected.

Just imagine how many major floods have affected the living conditions in Sri Lanka.

The Global warming leads to water and food scarcity.  Climate change is also likely to affect global water availability in the future. How many times they have shown the drought conditions in many parts of Africa, some people need to walk for miles just to get a pot of water. Fortunately some charities are in the process of supplying deep water wells. Just imagine the life without adequate supply of water for drinking, cooking and washing? So the hotter temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns will have impact on global water supplies. This will have an effect on global food supplies as there may be less water available for agricultural purposes. This scenario is already being played out in water stressed parts of the world like Africa and Asia.

There are other matters such as health issues as well due to global warming. For example, increased flooding events may cause water borne infectious diseases while a rise in heat waves can cause deaths among the old and very young. The recent heat wave in 2003 is estimated to have caused over 2,000 extra deaths in England and Wales and 35,000 deaths in other parts of Europe like Italy, Spain and France.

The problem of Global warming will never go away, very likely it might get worsen if nothing is being done. There are plenty of activities done by each and every country to prevent global warming or at least to reduce global warming. We as individual can contribute to cut down global warming. Why not we use this methane the fossil fuel sensibly than wasting carelessly or burning unnecessarily.  The gases from petrol, diesel and kerosene as well also contribute to global warming. Just imagine methane the cooking gas is used efficiently then certainly in might help in some way to cut down the unnecessary carbon emission which contributes to global warming. The question is would the people really care about the wastage of this fossil fuel methane, would they use it sensibly in an efficient way. Some might say, if fossil fuel runs out, we might find an alternative fuel such as solar power.

Any comments please perera6@hotmail.co.uk

 

One Response to “Global warming and climate change”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    We have to also address the melting of the polar ice caps and melt down of mountain top ice & snow. The results will be a rise in sea levels inimical to small islands such as the Maldives and Sri Lanka coastline, perhaps even the British coastline. What will happen if the Himalayan ice melts – what sources can feed the gigantic rivers such as the Ganges and the huge rivers of China, as both countries depend on the seasonal Himalayan mountain ice melts and build up of ice in winter months ? Will mostly rain be sufficient to feed these gigantic rivers ?

    Human beings dabble in science not really knowing the consequences. Are we cutting the branch we are sitting on ?

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