Strategies to stop global warming
Describe the strategies that have been suggested to reduce global warming. To what extent do you think they are successful? Global warming is the rise in the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans since the late 19th century and its projected continuation. Since the early 20th century, Earth’s mean surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 °C. It is primarily caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane produced by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Human-induced warming of the climate is expected to continue throughout the 21st century and beyond. Global warming can cause changes that could be essentially irreversible for hundreds if not thousands of years. The effects of an increase in global temperature include a rise in sea levels, continuing retreat of glaciers and sea ice, a change in the amount and pattern of precipitation, as well a probable expansion of subtropical deserts.
Other likely effects of the warming include a more frequent occurrence of extreme-weather events including heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, ocean acidification and species extinctions due to shifting temperature regimes. With the rising problems caused by global warming, actions have been taken over the years to reduce and mitigate global warming. Firstly, the Kyoto Protocol treaty was negotiated in December 1997 at the city of Kyoto, Japan and came into force on February 16th, 2005. It is initiated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is an international treaty that sets binding obligations on industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The UNFCCC is an environmental treaty with the goal of preventing “dangerous” anthropogenic (i.e., human-induced) interference on the climate system.
The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement under which industrialized countries (192 countries) will reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to the year 1990. Under the Protocol, countries’ actual emissions have to be monitored and recorded. This thus helps to ensure that all the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by countries is at a safety level. Although the first period of commitment of the protocol has been generally successful in encouraging countries to reduce their greenhouse gases emission, it is not successful in bringing the amount of greenhouse gas emission down. In fact, worldwide atmospheric CO2 levels have soared up to 35% since 1997. Most of that increase has come from the United States which did not ratify the protocol. Therefore, it is crucial for every country to be responsible and work together to reduce the emission of the greenhouse gases. Another strategy suggested to reduce global warming is through “Sponsor Trees”.
Sponsor Trees work with local tree planting organisations around developing countries planting millions of trees every year. The best way to reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is through photosynthesis, and to do so, trees play a crucial role. Each tree absorbs approximately 25kg of carbon emissions each year meaning 1 ton is removed from the atmosphere over a 40 year lifetime. Making use of this advantage, “Sponsor Trees” encourage individuals to sponsor trees by making donations. It is a successful strategy as it is feasible and sustainable in the long run. In “sponsor trees”, there are many experts who know what kind of trees is better to absorb carbon dioxide effectively and trees of the same species should not be planted together as they would absorb all the same nutrients from the ground and not survive effectively for long. Furthermore, since the life expectancy of trees are relatively long, it is a sustainable way to absorb carbon dioxide.
Therefore, this strategy of planting trees is successful to a large extent. One of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming is methane. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. While atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have risen by about 35%, methane concentrations have more than doubled. Methane is produced by a number of sources, including coal mining and landfills—but the number one source worldwide is animal agriculture. As such, The Vegetarian Society came out with a 5 year strategy in UK in 2009. Under this strategy, the society aims to encourage vegetarianism by promoting the benefits of vegetarianism, provide information to support vegetarians and make it easier to be vegetarian.
The idea behind this strategy is effective in reducing methane as there is no limit to reductions in this source of greenhouse gas that can be achieved through vegetarian diet. However, in reality, it is not as successful as not many people are willing to go vegetarian. Thus, this strategy will only be successful if every individual are willing to play a part in it. In conclusion, strategies in reducing global warming involve so as to achieve success. Be it sponsoring trees or going vegetarian, it needs the help of individuals to make it successful. Thus, we should all be responsible and do our part to reduce global warming.