What is Global Warming? A question you might have correctly answered back in your school days. As far as I can remember, it was a mash-up of words that we mindlessly scribbled onto the paper. Things learnt in school were left in school. No one took time and explained their importance to why we are learning them. Life began after school and college, by discarding all that we learnt, as that learning had served its purpose of getting the embellished marks and degree certificate.
But what is life? Real worth of those results is next to null if not made use in our daily lives. So why all the years of education? To make a living and to have a life of ‘comforts’ and ‘high standards’. But we forget, there is life, because there is this planet, a place called Earth.
And because we have been busy ‘educating’ & ‘living’ all these years, this is where we stand. The futures of our generation and the coming have already been jeopardized by our own actions.
So, maybe, it is time to revise Global Warming, to prepare for the real exams of life, one that do not consist of relentless competition of marks and ranks, but a test of humanity, on which our lives and the lives of future generations depend.
The Obvious Answer
It is a natural process that shifts the earth’s temperature gradually over the years making the earth warmer. There are several causes for this, but the most significant one is the greenhouse effect. Water vapour, our handmade(more manufactured than naturally produced) CO2, methane and ozone are the greenhouse gases majorly responsible for the greenhouse effect, along with clouds being the non-gas contributor.
Greenhouse effect is the absorption of the emitted infrared (thermal) radiation from the earth’s surface, by the greenhouse gases. Essentially this is a natural phenomenon occurring due to natural causes such as the water cycle, which includes the generation of the water vapour and clouds.
Water vapour is the largest naturally occurring greenhouse gas contributing to the greenhouse effect and hence majorly responsible for trapping the heat within the earth’s atmosphere. This is an integral part of our climate system, and there is nothing wrong with that as it prevents the earth from freezing over by keeping it warm and habitable.
The Big Question
But there is a damaging form of this similar greenhouse effect, which is caused solely through human activities. This greenhouse effect is mainly attributed to the CO2 emissions which, unlike water vapour, linger on in the atmosphere for a considerable number of years. This is the artificial acceleration of the greenhouse effect which is caused due to human activities such as emissions from factories, our daily use of vehicles, fossil fuel combustion, deforestation, land use etc.
Climatologist James Hansen in his TED talk concerning the prevailing climate crisis communicates the urgency of the situation with hard facts, which are further reinforced by the oppressive efforts of the governments, organizations’ and institutions to conceal the data gathered data.
This video shows his journey as a scientist in the battle against this global issue. It highlights the discoveries he made, the scientific estimates & predictions that turned into realities and the human influenced opposition and obstacles hindering this issue.
A Summary of the Scenario
Venus is one of the 4 terrestrial planets of our solar system, the other 3 being Mercury, Earth & Mars. These are the planets that have earth-like composition and structure. To gather data from Venus, the Soviet Union, in 1961-84, developed Venera probes which were a series of exploratory spacecrafts. Based on the temperature data gathered on these missions, Venus was found to have a surface temperature of around 900 degree Fahrenheit which is equal to 482.222 degree Celsius.
This was due to its atmospheric composition of nearly 96.5% of CO2(carbon dioxide). The dense carbon dioxide atmosphere is what keeps Venus extremely hot. A thick layer of this greenhouse gas envelops the planet, making Venus the hottest planet in the Solar System.
This atmospheric situation of an earth-like terrestrial planet, namely, Venus, due to the global warming causing gas-CO2, depicts a rather adverse portrait of what might happen to Earth in the future, at this rate.
We have already experienced the effects in the last few decades – erosion of ice sheets, rising sea levels, heatwaves, droughts, extreme rainfall, stronger storms, greater flooding, melting of ice all around the planet and the rising sea levels. Their impacts have only worsened. These occurrences are signs of what is to come in the future, and how cautious we must be, together, as human beings.
There is an ongoing scientific debate regarding the extent to which anthropogenic or human activity based greenhouse effect is causing the above stated issues and the accuracy of the assessment of future threats based on the existing data.
Irrespective of what is correct or accurate, in reality it cannot be denied that our activities have become rather wasteful and thoughtless, with continuous over consumption, in relation to food as well as natural resources combined with over-reliance on comfort & convenience in the case of household activities as well as those involving transport and travel (vehicles & automobiles), all at the expense of environmental pollution and degradation, and therefore our lives.
How blind they cannot see serenity.
– Henry David Thoreau
Each activity or process has an input in the form of an exhaustive resource which is processed or utilized, ultimately exiting as an output, which is usually a harmful byproduct. So, what goes in is a limited natural resource, and what comes out is a pollutant or contaminant of some sort. From housing to industries and others, innumerable such unsustainable processes, with consumption, depletion and waste generation as the intrinsic features, are all progressively leading us into a future far worse than we can imagine at this moment.
The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.
– Norman Cousins
We should realize that the planet is not our keepsake. We cannot build and destroy as we fancy. It isn’t a Lego set gifted to us on our birthday. So let’s start taking steps for our future and the lives of coming generations, those of our children and grandchildren. Unless you want humanity to go extinct like many other species of the animal kingdom which have already fallen victim to this globally rampant yet unchecked environmental issue, it is time to rise. Spread the Awareness, Learn, Educate. And Live.