The recent hype in the media has changed many peoples attitudes about the way in which we as humans use and burn up fossil fuels for energy. Fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy mainly consisting of coal, oil and gas. Burning fossil fuels increases the risk of global warming by adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
This graph indicates the dramatic increase in Carbon Dioxide levels worldwide.
As a result of this we must look into different ways of reducing the risk of Global Warming. One way this can be done is by using alternative fuels.
Throughout this report I will be looking into different methods of producing a renewable source that doesn’t effect the environment for future generations.
The burning of fossil fuels by humans is the largest source of emissions of carbon dioxide, which is one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The atmospheric concentration of CO2, a greenhouse gas, is increasing, raising concerns that solar heat will be trapped and the average surface temperature of the Earth will rise in response.
Certain gases in the atmosphere help to trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. A greenhouse traps heat in a similar way, which is why this is called the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide and methane. As more of these gases are being released into the atmosphere the earth gets slightly warmer.
Fossil fuels are made up of molecules called hydrocarbons which are compounds of hydrogen and carbon. Coal is mainly carbon with some hydrocarbons. Natural gas is largely a hydrocarbon called methane with the formula CH4. The liquid fuels are more complex mixtures of hydrocarbons. In industrialized countries the burning of fossil fuels provides most of the energy that humans need.
Many scientists have predicted rising sea levels to accelerate and rise about 30cm if current trends continue. Dr John Church, a scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation based in Tasmania and an author of the study, said that higher sea levels could have grave effects on some areas.
“It means there will be increased flooding of low-lying areas when there are storm surges, It means increased coastal erosion on sandy beaches; we’re going to see increased flooding on island nations.” he told the Associated Press on the 17th of January 2007 after winning the CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement in 2006.
Along with the threat of rising sea levels, there is also an increased threat of climate change, which will happen due to an increase of water vapour in the air, which will then increase the cloud cover. Increased cloud cover could result in more radiation being reflected back into space.
There is also the threat to living organisms. Food crops are grown in places where conditions suit them. Changes in climate could mean that we have to grow different crops. In some places, drier conditions may make it impossible to grow crops at all. Warmer temperatures could also change the type and amount of insects that live in a specific region. This may increase the spread of diseases that are carried by insects. Some animals may be able to migrate to cooler regions, but many will not be able to and may become extinct. Numerous plant species could also die out.
“Global warming will be the greatest environmental challenge in the 21st century.”
– Vice President, Albert Gore. This is what Al Gore, a major, political figure head had to say on the subject at the premiere of his new film documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” on May 24th 2006.
The threat of global warming has forced many scientists to look at ways in which we can reduce the risk. One huge suggestion is the way in which we provide and make energy. We, as humans, use the fuels coal, oil and gas to power 91% of our energy worldwide.
Bryan Wong from articlesbase.com is a scientist who specializes in the subject. He expressed his views on needing alternative energy in his article published on 16th February 2006 ‘This Why We Need Alternative Energy Sources’ He had this to say, “The solution for the above problems of climate change can be resolved by renewable energy.”
Although plenty of people have wisened to the fact that we need to act on the problem of global warming some people believe it is totally fine that we are burning fossil fuels. Meteorologist Dennis Avery believes Global Warming is a natural occurrence and there is “nothing we can do to stop it”. He is therefore adamant that we can carry on using fossil fuels as it has no effect on the current global warming situation.
There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that Global Warming does exist and is changing the world’s climate, however although many people believe that humans are the cause of this problem, there are a minority that disagree. The theory that global warming is just a natural occurrence is becoming more common as each day passes, and according to the believers there is substantial evidence to back up this theory. They believe that the world’s climate is constantly changing and that the ice ages show this constant change.
According to Robert Essenhigh, E.G. Bailey Professor of Energy Conservation in Ohio State’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. It is the rising global temperatures that are naturally increasing the levels of carbon dioxide, not the other way around. “I think that there is concrete evidence to show us that the world’s climate is changing, I also think that this is due to natural changes in our environment. If you look into history, the ice ages will tell you that this is not the first time the world’s climate has changed and it is evident that it is changing all the time.” Explained Essenhigh in a “viewpoint” article in the current issue of the journal Chemical Innovation, published by the American Chemical Society in September of 2006.
Different views from my peers:
Chace: I don’t think that global warming is such a big problem, it is not our generation that will be affected it is the future generations. When I get older I want multiple cars even if they are run on fossil fuels.
Josh: I think that global warming is a natural occurrence and the earth has gone through these cycles throughout its past, specifically the ice age.
Kristian: I think we need to act quickly and efficiently and place a scheme that changes the production of our energy. I believe we should focus on using wind and solar power to sustain our future.
After much consideration on both parts of the argument, I have come to the conclusion that we are in desperate need to find a renewable energy source other than fossil fuels if we are to sustain the future of the earth as we know it. After in-depth research of the topic I have excluded the possibility of global warming being a natural occurrence and fully believe that humans input of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is the main reason behind it. I believe that it is purely logical to believe that we are causing a climate change therefore, nations and governments need to change people’s views on the subject and change the way in which we produce our energy. Using all 3 renewable sources of energy above in different places around the world is a great way to begin the fight back at global warming.