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Global Warming is the rise in the temperature of Earth atmosphere. Scientists across the world agree that the Earth is heating up and climatic changes are pronounced since the nineteenth century. The Earth atmosphere is estimated at about 0.8Â°C or 1.4Â°F warmer since the turn of the millennium and if it continues at this rate, the temperature is likely to go up by another 6.4Â°C or 11.5Â°F by the end of this century.
Global warming causes glaciers to melt quickly, raising sea levels and causing many coastal regions of the world to be submerged. Accompanying this threat is a set of climatic changes that threatens to draw many wildlife species closer to their end. Global warming is believed to be the cause of a number of global phenomena such as floods, droughts, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, and even volcanic eruptions.
The effect of global warming on human adaptability is perhaps the most worrisome of all concerns. A number of islands in the Indian, the Atlantic, and the Pacific Oceans have shown signs of submergence in the past few years. Maldives, an exotic tourist destination, home to a population of over 300,000, is expected to be completely submerged within a century. Cities like Miami, New York, and New Orleans will be exposed to risks of flooding, and a 13-20 foot rise in the coastline by the turn of the century, scientists predict.
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Certain gasses in the Earthâ€™s atmosphere trap or retain the heat while they allow the sunâ€™s light in. This is what is referred to as the â€œgreenhouse effect.â€Â While a certain amount of greenhouse effect is essential for the sustenance of life on Earth, a drastic increase in the quantity of these greenhouse gasses is likely to heat the Earthâ€™s temperature beyond endurance for many life forms. An understanding of the greenhouse effect was the result of Joseph Fourierâ€™s scientific study in 1824. Fourier recorded that the Earthâ€™s temperature would have been too cold to support life had there been no atmosphere. In 1895, Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, studied the gasses that were instrumental in retaining solar heat. Ozone depletion is another related phenomenon observed due to the production of CFCs and other ozone depleting substances worldwide. Ozone restricts the UVB of ultraviolet rays, preventing a number of harmful biological diseases.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change protocol, called the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at combating global warming, marks China, the US, EU, Indonesia, and India as the top emitters of greenhouse gases. Developing nations such as China and India have, however, refused to commit to specific goals that would help restrict these emissions since this could have major economic impacts. A number of scientists and political theorists worldwide believe that the alarm raised by global warming theorists worldwide is part of a worldwide hoax or a conspiracy. In November 2009, the email server at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia was hacked and thousands of emails, exchanged between scientists in the UK and the US, were leaked. Popularly referred to as Climategate, the controversy centered on an attempt to misrepresent and suppress scientific data and to depict global warming as a threat. The validity of various graphs and data, including the â€˜hockey-stick graphâ€™ used by former US Vice President Al Gore, were questioned.
Climategate was taken up by the media at the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009. A number of scientific bodies such as the Union of Concern Scientists (UCS), the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) went on record to state the legitimacy of global warming. Furthermore, eight independent investigations were carried out, including those by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the Science Assessment Panel, the United States Environment Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation. Artificial Trees: Professor Klaus Lackner from Columbia University came up with the idea of using artificial trees to trap atmospheric carbon dioxide. The sodium hydroxide filters of these â€œtreesâ€Â could be used to capture the CO2 and reuse them for industrial purposes. Professor Lackner does not have a prototype for these trees yet.
Ocean Iron Restoration: Planktos, a firm specializing in eco-restorations, commissioned the ship Weatherbird II to set sail from Washington DC and to plant iron ore dust in the ocean beds. The experiment was called off after it was shown that the efforts were inadequate to contain global warming.
Atmospheric Sulfate Infusion: Imitating the eruptions of volcanoes such as El Chichon and Mount Pinatubo, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research suggested infusion of 5.5 million tons of sulfur dioxide at regular intervals to halt global warming. The scientists are still uncertain of the outcome and the infusion methods.
Sun Refracting Space Shields: Professor Roger Angel from the University of Arizona is working on sun refraction shields that can be placed in space. These shields are designed to be three feet wide and are intended to each refract 2% of the sunâ€™s rays back. The cost and the time required to develop these are unrealistic at the moment.
Wrapping Greenland: Dr. Jason Box from the University of Ohio has launched an experiment to cover the glaciers of Greenland with refractive blankets to prevent them from melting. Finding appropriate material and working on a larger scale could prove to be the biggest challenges of this experiment. Six daily steps to reduce global warming â€“
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