Climate Change: the Downfall of Mother Earth


Global warming is affecting many parts of the world in many devastating ways. However, the primary global outcome of this phenomenon is the rise in sea level, which triggers a chain reaction. When the sea rises, water covers low lands, forming a massive problem for plants, animals, and people. When inundated, plants die and the animals lose their food and their habitats. Although animals have a better ability to adapt to what happens than plants do, they may also die. When the plants and animals perish, people lose their main sources of food; they may also lose their homes.

Oceans are affected by global warming in other ways, as well. To name one, warm water—caused by global warming—kills algae, which is a producer of food for many consumers in the ocean. Global warming is also behind dryness-caused fires that are wiping out huge forests; another alarming crisis since the more trees are destroyed, the less CO2 is absorbed and converted into Oxygen.

Global warming is caused by several things, many of which are man-made. However, there are also natural causes for global warming. One natural cause is the release of methane, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases, from the arctic tundra and wetlands. Another natural cause is the Earth’s cycle of climate change, which usually lasts about 40,000 years.

Man-made causes, however, probably do the most damage to our planet; pollution being one of the biggest. A primary cause of pollution is burning of fossil fuels, giving off CO2. Moreover, mining coal and oil allows methane to escape. Another major man-made cause of Global Warming is population. More people means more CO2 is released into the atmosphere; more food is raised, producing and using more manure, and releasing more methane; more houses are built, leading to destruction of more forests and natural habitats; and, of course, more fuel-using means of transportation.

Truth or Myth?

It does not help that despite such convicting evidence—wondrous as it might be—there are still people, scholars even, who refute the obvious; going so far as calling it a “myth”.

While a sea level rise of 1-9m is predicted by the year 2100, it is not seen by this group of people as a dangerous situation. After all, there was a 2m rise in sea level during the past century and humans did not even seem to notice. When global warming pundits talk about the rise in sea level resulting from the melting of three sheets of ice per year, opponents put it into these terms: if the ice continues to melt at that rate, it will take a thousand years to raise the sea level by 5m.

People who preach on the dangers of global warming believe that Hurricane Katrina and others were intensified by global warming. Many experts on the other side of the fence claim that the extreme storms have not been unusual Earth events.

While those dedicated to stopping global warming are worried about the recession of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro, others believe there are reasons besides global warming. These people say that you have to understand how glaciers interact with the climate around them. Knowing that the air has been drier, they say, leads you to the fact that the glacial recession is a natural occurrence.

Many people who fear global warming say that it will increase diseases like malaria by allowing disease-bearing mosquitoes into higher elevations. Others realize that there are other reasons for the additional cases of malaria and such diseases. These include the facts that people from lowland areas are resistant to disease but carry it with them when moving to higher elevations, deforestation leaves a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and more pools and ditches will lead to more mosquitoes.

For many reasons, global warming is not a subject that everyone agrees on. Nevertheless, is it a risk we can afford to take?

Think Locally, Act Globally!

For many years, environmental activists have called upon the masses to “Think Globally, Act Locally”. Many people, particularly in developed countries, have thus mobilized—sometimes to the point of extremism—towards a green lifestyle. Reducing, reusing, recycling, saving energy, eating local produce, cycling, car pooling, traveling by train, to the end of it; sadly, the collective impact of all these commendable individual efforts is not causing enough of a dent to slow down the otherwise snowballing global disaster-in-the-making.

Leaving it to the elective will of the individual citizen is no longer an option; laws and regulations must be reinforced nationwide and worldwide now, not later. The one and only way out of this complex peril is in fact in the hands of the global community as it stands united in the face of this calamity.

The solution thus starts and rests with the nations, not the individuals. For one thing, a good forestry department can have a huge impact. The carbon dioxide that is one cause of global warming is eaten up by trees. If a country fosters the growth of its forests and does not allow them to be cut down indiscriminately, global warming will be slowed down.

Another thing nations can do is focus on energy efficiency. The less energy used, the less global warming has a chance to take hold. A country can place efficiency standards on appliances and cars; even better, they can redesign cities so that walking and cycling can become an option instead of people having to drive everywhere.

Alternative sources of energy emit little or no greenhouse gases; using them will help curb global warming. Hydro-power, solar energy, and windmills can be used to take the place of burning gas, or coal for electricity. Windmills, in fact, are already being set up by the scores in many fields in out-of-the-way places. This is a good step to prevent global warming.

Nations can and must be quick to adjust their policies to the climatic changes of the times. When one type of crop will no longer grow well because it needs a cooler climate, that crop can be replaced in that area with a different kind that will. Aqueducts can also be built to transport water to drought-ridden areas.

There are different ways that nations can get their message about global warming across. But first of all, they need to make the now essential laws; they can and must require people to use environmentally-friendly appliances, fuel sources, and vehicles. They must also make it a legal requirement for auto makers to reduce harmful emissions given off by their cars.


*The article was first published in print in SCIplanet, Winter 2012 Issue.

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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