What Is the Global Warming Problem?

A map of the polar ice caps, which are affected by global warming.
Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Image By: Lunar And Planetary Institute
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Women's brains have about 10 times more white matter (areas for seeing and processing patterns) than men's brains do.  more...

September 2 ,  1666 :  The "Great Fire of London" burned down more than 13,000 buildings, including St. Paul's   more...

The global warming problem refers to the accumulation of gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. These fumes form a layer between the Sun and the Earth, creating what is known as the greenhouse effect. Just like the glass panes used in greenhouses to warm the inside of the structure, the gases collecting in the atmosphere trap some of the Sun's energy. This is slowly causing the Earth’s temperatures to rise, and is thus causing many problems across the globe.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main culprit for causing the global warming problem, although other gases may contribute to the issue as well. Carbon dioxide is given off in large amounts by the cars and trucks humans use as transportation, and by other carbon-emitting sources such as power plants and industrial factories. The main plan for combating climate change is to issue stronger regulations for the use of these fuels and to find cleaner energy sources. However, even with these changes in place, climate change will still affect the planet to some degree.

There are five main ways in which the global warming problem will impact the Earth. First, global warming may cause the spread of some diseases. As northern areas become warmer, insects which thrive in warm climates will begin to migrate further north than usual. These insects carry with them a host of infectious diseases.

Another issue brought about in part by the global warming problem is the increase of hurricanes. The oceans will become warmer, bringing about earlier and more violent hurricane seasons because these storms thrive in tropical conditions. In combination with these increased storms, more droughts may be found across the globe as well. Africa will likely be the hardest hit in this respect, as water is scarce in many African regions to begin with.

With the hurricanes, droughts, and conflicts brought about by these catastrophes; economic hardships may follow. Repairs must be done after storms hit and relief efforts must be provided for citizens effected by hurricanes and during serious droughts. This may pose a financial strain on many nations.

Finally, the most serious effect of the global warming problem is the melting of the polar ice caps. As the polar ice caps melt, the sea level will rise. This could put many major cities under water, thereby dislocating or killing millions of citizens.

The melting ice caps will also throw off the Earth’s ecosystem because the caps are made from fresh water, while the oceans below are made from salt water. Once they are melted, the water will make the oceans less salty and change the overall temperatures around both north-east America and western Europe. Additionally, as the temperatures heat up and the ice caps disappear, thousands of animal species will lose their habitats. Only the ones who are able to adapt will survive the change.

Finally, if the ice caps are gone entirely, the global warming problem may escalate even further. Polar ice caps are white, thereby reflecting the Sun away from the Earth. If they are not available, the largest reflector is the ocean. Darker colors, like sea water, absorb the Sun’s energy. This will further increase the Earth’s temperature.

Despite evidence which suggests that climate change is already occurring, or will occur in a matter of years, some researchers claim that global warming is not a threat. The Earth naturally goes through cycles of cooling down and warming up over the centuries, and many claim that the recent heating up of the atmosphere is a result of the Earth's natural pattern. That said, since neither side can be definitively proven until serious consequences do or do not actually occur, it is most likely best to take precautions. Even without the threat of global warming, carbon emissions are reducing the Earth's air quality in many areas.

The best way to ensure that the global warming problem does not alter human existence is to take action while there is time. Cutting down on carbon emissions and other harmful greenhouse gases is the first step, along with stricter government regulations for the use of these fuels. This will require the development and implementation of renewable energy sources on a global scale.

Discuss this Article