What is the greenhouse effect? what are the factors responsible?
Our mother Earth is the only known habitable planet in the entire Universe, where we the intelligent people live. We are very careful of our comfort and bright future, for which invented many things for the purpose.
The only objective of all inventions, discoveries, and research is for the survival of the human race at any cost. But at the same time, we forget or pretend to forget that we are very innocent and what the treatment is being made to nature is the last refuge of civilized kids. We are the products of nature and we have some responsibilities toward her.
We must remember that a relationship is always reciprocal, not one-sided. The unquestioning industrialization, urbanization, mining, and clearance of green covers for the sake of development are causing damage to nature’s ecosystem, making concerns for the survival of the plant and animal kingdom domes in the future.
The greenhouse effect is one of the principal concerns caused by human activities giving rise to so many issues for the future. Before discussing on the greenhouse effect, let us know about greenhouse and greenhouse gases responsible for the greenhouse effect.
What is a greenhouse?
A greenhouse is a simple structure of wall and roof made of transparent materials like plastics, glass, or like such substances to regulate the temperature inside for proper care, protection, and growth of the plants. Inside the greenhouse required temperature, and moisture is being maintained so that the growth of crops, and plants are not disturbed.
If its structures got damaged or wrecked, the young plants may not survive for long against scorching sunlight, chill, and notorious cyclone-like natural calamities. Earth’s environment is just like a greenhouse to protect nature’s ecosystem. The increase of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere is a big threat to the bright future of the earth and its creations.
What are greenhouse gases and their sources:
The principal greenhouse gas is Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The source of this unfriendly gas is the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Rapid industrialization, urbanization, development of infrastructures, mining, and cutting down of forests in the name of progress are the main reasons for the emissions of Carbon Dioxide.
Research reveals since the beginning of the industrial revolution Carbon Dioxide concentration in the air has increased by 47%. Methane (CH4,) Hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs), Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and Nitrous Oxide( N2O) are among the other greenhouse gases.
Burning of biomass, fumes emitted from refrigerators, air conditioners, air conditioning plants, industrial fumes and enteric fermentation of cattle, insects, use of chemical fertilizers and animal manures are the sources of greenhouse gases. Today 11.5% of green gases like HCFCs and CFCs are contributed by industrial fumes. Nitrous Oxide is 300 times more effective and dangerous than Carbon Dioxide and it also depletes the Ozone layer. The principal sources are chemical fertilizer and animal manure used in agriculture fields.
What are greenhouse effects?
Our Earth has multi-layer atmospheres which work for our protection and existence. Sunlight essential for the existence of life on earth passes through the atmosphere and reaches the ground. Some heat is absorbed in the earth’s surface and the rest radiates back to space for the betterment of nature’s eco-system, which is the law of nature.
But due to our interventions in nature’s law, heavy greenhouse gases like Carbon Dioxide concentrations increased in the atmosphere for which escaping heat is being trapped in the atmosphere causing a greenhouse effect. In other words, the greenhouse effect is the way in which heat is trapped close to the earth’s surface by greenhouse gases.
The increase of Carbon Dioxide like pollutants in the atmosphere makes it more opaque to radiation of heat from the earth and the absorbed radiation is reradiated back to the earth’s surface causing the earth’s temperature to raise.
Different global agencies have continued working on the above issues and prepared the database for the awareness of the people, governments, and their agencies. Data available in the public domain says global annual temperature increased @ 0.2 degree Celsius from 1880 to 1940. It was stable between 1940 and 1970. But since 1970 global temperature is increasing by 0.18 degree Celsius each decade.
The average global temperature has increased by 0.9 degree Celsius, compared to the baseline temperature, which is about 14 degree Celsius. By 2025 it may increase 1degree Celsius and further by 3 degree Celsius during 2025-2100 AD if not taken care of the eco-system. The current century is vital for civilizations and positive proactive actions by global leaders are warranted to curb carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
There is a projection of CO2 smaller emissions, then no increase of Carbon Dioxide in the air in the late 21st century. No increase in further Carbon Dioxide then no threat to the environment at all. Likely the highest Carbon Dioxide emission, highest to medium emission, and medium CO2 emission have separate implications as projected in the graph. Not only did surface temperature increase but also sea temperature also increased by an average of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit per decade as observed from 1901 to 2015.
Effects of the greenhouse effect:
It has far-reaching implications for everybody in the ecosystem, called global warming, leading to climate change. Then what will happen? The following changes will cause global leaders and activists worried.
- Sea level rise: NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment says Ice sheets of Green land have lost an average of 286 billion tons of ice per year. Since 1912 the famous snow of mount Kilimanjaro has melted more than 80%. It is also alarming to note that Himalayan glaciers in India started melting so fast that, environmentalists and researchers apprehend that by 2035, most of the central and eastern Himalayas may disappear from the earth causing many implications. The above incidents shall increase the global sea level rise by 0.6 to 1.1 meters (1 to 3 feet) ( about 15 mm per year) if greenhouse gas emissions remain at high tares(RCP8.5) by 2100, as projected by IPCR in his 2019 report. If it happens in reality, many of the coastal cities, port cities, and Islands including Dhaka, Bangladesh ( 22.5 million population), Lagos, Nigeria (15.3 million population, Bangkok, Thailand (9 million population), Maldives, either be submerged or vast track of land become useless for human activities, causing millions homeless, jobless and end results humanitarian crisis.
- Extinction of local flora and fauna and loss of habitation: One of the major changes in the habitation of animals and the extinction of natural species may alter the ecosystem. Many people/ tribes to lose their habitation, and livelihood causing moral depletion, and economic and cultural disadvantages.
- Unseasonal heavy rains and flood: Unseasonal heavy rain shall cause damage to the cropping pattern, more pest attacks, more floods, and ruin the economic fabric of the farmers. Government relief operations may not compensate for all the losses. The government has to arrange funds for flood damage relief( FDR) leads to the economic crisis.
- Summer heat: Very high temperature causes heat waves, which are very dangerous to human as well as animal health. Heatwave causes heat stroke to both people and animal. If not treated on time, it becomes fatal. From 2018-19 the term heat stroke came into lime lite causing 3.45 lakhs people above 65 years of death all over the world as per Lancet Countdown on health and climate change report, 2021. In 2020 up to 19% of the global land suffered from extreme drought in any given month, the scenario had not exceeded 13 % between 1950-1999. India is one of the worst affected countries where 2016 to 2020 on average 444 million more days of heat wave exposure of people above 65 years per annum compared to1986 to 2005 baseline, which leads to a loss of 113 billion hours of potential labor in 2020, increased by 82% in comparison to 1990-1994.
- Increase of health hazards: More heat means more pollution leads to more health issues. But of the heat strokes, skin diseases will have many folds including prickly heat, dehydration, headache, and faints, etc. The scarcity of power supply may cause more inconvenience in daily lives. Pest attacks, water-borne diseases, monkeypox, and corona-like pandemics are the byproduct of greenhouse effects.
Preventive measures to tackle the situation:
The G-20, a group of influential 20 countries including the US, UK, Russia, China, and Brazil as well as the European Union, accounts for 80% of emissions of greenhouse gas globally. The activists have expressed unhappy gestures towards the lack of appropriate actions by the G-20 leaders to reduce carbon emissions.
Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International urged the global leaders before the commencement of the 26th United Nations Climate change Conference, commonly known as COP26″(Conference of the Parties) in Glasgow, Scotland, held from 31st October to 13 November 2021 to cut emission drastically as immediate measures to stay in line with 1.5 degree Celsius.” The main objectives of the COP26 were to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming within reach.
Almost 200 countries agreed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, preferable to 1.5 degree Celsius compared to the preindustrial level as part of the Paris Agreement 2015. But progress by G-20 nations in this regard is not at all encouraging.
Global Citizen also criticized the G20 meeting resolution for nonperformance as committed. Only commitment may not solve the issues but have to convert it into action by every country. Collective responsibilities must be adhered to by the countries for the purpose to save lovely mother Earth and her Ecosystem.