"Decent Into Extinction:"
Global Warming 1 Global Warming: Mitigation Strategies and Solutions [YOUR NAME HERE] [CLASS SUBJECT HERE] [PROFESSOR’S NAME HERE] June 15, 2008 Global Warming 2 Our atmosphere took billions of years to develop. Yet technological advances have given today’s society the power to change the atmosphere in fewer than 100 years. Unfortunately, it is not change for the better. The Industrial Revolution that began in the late eighteenth century made it possible for inventors to create many energy-saving machines. The only energy these machines save is human energy, because the machines use energy in the form of fossil fuels – made of large amounts of carbon. They were created when the organic remains of plants and animals were buried millions of years ago, mostly during the Carboniferous Period. Over time, heat and pressure changed the remains into coal, oil, and natural gas. When people burn fossil fuels, huge amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases are released into the atmosphere. The result is several changes to the composition of the atmosphere. The most significant environmental problem this paper will focus on is Global Warming. People who grow flowers year-round often use a special building that has walls and a roof made of glass. The transparent glass allows insolation to enter but prevents heat loss by radiation. So when the insolation enters the green house, the sun’s energy is trapped and warms the house. This keeps the greenhouse warmer than its surrounds. Carbon dioxide and water vapor are like the glass in a greenhouse. They allow insolation to reach Earth’s surface, but they cut down on the escape of energy. This is known as the greenhouse effect. Without the greenhouse effect, too much energy would escape from Earth, making it too cold to sustain life. However, some scientists fear that carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels could upset the energy balance of Earth by trapping more heat. This would warm Earth more than natural warming would. Furthermore, forests are being cut down at an alarming rate. Trees and other plants are important because they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Climatologists—scientists who study different climates— Global Warming 3 are making measurements of temperatures around the world. They are recording and analyzing the data to determine if human activities are causing Earth to become warmer. This warming trend is called global warming. However there are potential problems, or “side effects” of global warming that must be addressed as well. If global temperatures rise, areas that are already warm might become even warmer. This might change farming regions with little rainfall into deserts, decreasing our ability to grow food. Global warming could cause the Antarctic ice cap to melt. The water from the melting ice could raise the sea level and possibly flood coastal cities. (EPA, 2008) There are various sustainability plans and solutions available today. However, despite the fact that global warming tends to be the biggest challenge facing today’s society, it is a fact that not one single solution for addressing this climate change is quite adequate enough. The Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is “the” international policy that convenes to work and solve the issue of global warming – it is important to note that the United States is not a part of this international policy. (Callahan, 2008) However, the Bush Administration has had actions on the global climate change. The White House and the Office of the Press Secretary released this statement on Nov. 19, 2004: I've asked my advisors to consider approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including those that tap the power of markets, help realize the promise of technology and ensure the widest-possible global participation…. Our actions should be measured as we learn more from science and build on it. Our approach must be flexible to adjust to new information and take advantage of new technology. We must always act to ensure continued economic growth and prosperity for our citizens and for citizens throughout the world.” – President George W. Bush Global Warming 4 Thus, with this being said, what actions specifically have been taken by the United States administration? In February 2002, President Bush obligated the country to a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions growth. This was enacted through the following processes: an increased budget for climate change activities, tax incentives to reduce greenhouse emissions, and the 2005 budget continues strong support for the Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) which develops and deploys innovative technologies that can achieve these reductions. Individual city and state initiatives within both California and Massachusetts are prevalent as well. They are two state governments that are working within their state to reduce greenhouse gases, find alternatives for technology, and solutions that will affect the state in an overall future status. These three initiatives of sustainability policies and plans (internationally, nationally, and state/locally) have been evaluated to be successful within the means and plans that they each have decided upon. However, this is not enough. Although it would be great if there could be a global warming mitigation plan that could apply globally, but considering that each plan must tailor itself to its own needs of the nation and economy, this simply wouldn’t be effective. Thus, my plan focuses more on what to do nationally, hopefully leading as an example to the rest of the world to catch up with the “times” that something definitely needs to be soon. My plan for the complex and difficult nature of problems and issues requires a comprehensive plan of management of sources that contribute to the global warming “greenhouse effect”, innovative technology, and a program system to manage these processes. Global warming management requires a relationship between businesses, civil society and governments; none of these divisions can individually deliver a solution on their own. Global Warming 5 First and foremost, research should be conducted in identifying the effects of global warming within the United States as a nation, and essentially recognize the potential sources for such effects. Accessing environmental Web sites and journals and documenting the sources can establish a task of targeting these sources. Interviews of environmental scientists and educators can be conducted in regards to both environmental and humanity effects of global warming. I approximate that this research can extend from a period of anywhere from one to three months, depending on the amount and quality of knowledge collected. Thus, once the proper information has been collected, there are possible courses of action I want to see implemented within the nation. A Carbon Tax is the most uncomplicated system to pursue – because CO2 emissions are continuing to threaten the Earth’s future, this tax uses the knowledge and tools that would, practically speaking, allow for those who are contributing to the emissions pay and non-polluters aren’t subjected to this. (Chavas, 2006) It is the fairest method, I believe, would work. Thus, those who are filling up their automobile’s gas tanks have to pay a tax on that gasoline because the tax would go directly towards the cost it would take to clean the emissions for the contribution you are liable for. The technology exists and is available to capture emissions and transfer them to an alternate source – although it is being implemented in some areas, it is not occurring on as great of a scale that I desire to see. This technology is called “carbon sequestration” in which equipment and machinery utilized at coal power plants would trap the carbon dioxide emissions directly at the root of the problem, and relocate it submerged into the Earth at pressures that would come back as a non-gas form. (Chavas, 2006) Global Warming 6 A program that already exists, but needs further development, are tax breaks, subsidies, and benefits that support both new technology and low-emission standards – implemented in states such as California and Massachusetts. (Chavas, 2006) This seeks for a cleaner industry through the advancement of low-emission technology. This “big push” has further increased the voluntary methods taken by many businesses to reduce and offer other alternatives. This technology, especially in the sales of hybrid vehicles, are given tax breaks to those who purchase them; thus allowing it to affordable as well as demand for expansion of hybrid production through the methods of cheaper costs. However, although this technology has found itself into our market, it cannot stand alone by cutting emissions quickly. Thus, this program in combination with other efforts is the best method to go. An ample amount of legal framework to control these programs should be devised by either the authorities or legal professionals. In order for the policies to be effect, commitment on all levels—governmental, societal, and global support—is quite vital for change to occur. Numerous programs, systems, and activities can be subsidized (Callahan, 2008) by governments: it must continue to progress in an expansive nature in order to play a main role in reducing the “carbon footprint” set by our humanity. A widespread study has revealed that the dramatic extent from global warming has disrupted animals and plants throughout the world. (Post, 2002). How can these societies, governments, and nations question the existence of global warming and its effects when the living things of this world now are being affected by evident climate change – and not take action? Subsequently, I would design an educational program concerning the reasons behind why this program is needed, as well as identifying the elements of global warming – burning of Global Warming 7 carbon fossil fuels and their emissions into the atmosphere. Guidelines for management of global warming and rehabilitation efforts for this issue will have to be incorporated. The completion of this task would take approximately another month or two: I would have to schedule an agenda in regard to the day and time of all presentations of this program to the necessary government agencies in order for review and implementation to take effect. Every American schoolchild has heard of global warming, what causes it, and the initial “process” behind it – but solutions are usually not implemented. Even if they are, these solutions are just written down, as answers on homework or tests – thus, these younger generations are not seeing firsthand the effects around us in our environment. An inclusive educational program would allow for the students to interact with these issues by field trips to the sources and subsequent projects to utilize this knowledge about the sources in constructing solutions. A valuable public education and awareness program on global warming needs to be recognized and utilized. All scientists agree that we need to monitor the effects of increasing carbon dioxide levels so that we are prepared for the possible new conditions. The future is not out of our control. If society can decrease the use of fossil fuels, it might be possible to restore the balance of the gases in the atmosphere. As a result, we might be able to slow down excessive global warming. Global Warming 8 Reference Page Callahan, G (2008) How a Free Society Could Solve Global Warming. The Freeman, 57, No. 8, Retrieved June 15, 2008, from http://www.fee.org/publications/the- freeman/article.asp?aid=8150 Chavas, D (2006). Climate Policy Options. Retrieved June 15, 2008, from Global Warming:FACT Web site: http://gwfact.rso.wisc.edu/policy.html EPA, (2008, April 1). Climate Change - Basic Information. Retrieved June 15, 2008, from United States Environmental Protection Agency Web site: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basicinfo.html Post, E (2002). Extensive Research Survey Confirms Life on Earth Now Being Affected by Global Warming. PennState Science Journal, 20, No. 1, Retrieved June 15, 2008, from http://www.science.psu.edu/journal/Fall2002/Globalwarming-FA02.htm