Global warming refers to the long-term increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to human activities, primarily the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It is a key aspect of climate change. The greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and others, act like a blanket around the Earth, trapping heat from the sun and preventing it from escaping back into space. As a result, the Earth’s temperature rises, leading to global warming.
The primary driver of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) for energy production, transportation, and industrial processes. These activities release large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Deforestation and land-use changes also contribute to the increase in CO2 concentrations. Additionally, other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide are released from agricultural activities, waste management, and industrial processes.
The consequences of global warming are wide-ranging and include:
- Rising Temperatures:
- Global average temperatures have been increasing over the past century and are projected to continue rising.
- This increase in temperature has impacts on weather patterns, ecosystems, and human health.
- Melting Ice:
- Global warming leads to the melting of ice caps, glaciers, and polar ice sheets, contributing to rising sea levels.
- The loss of ice also has implications for the availability of freshwater resources.
- Changing Precipitation Patterns:
- Global warming affects the distribution and intensity of rainfall, causing shifts in precipitation patterns.
- Some regions may experience increased rainfall and flooding, while others may face more frequent and severe droughts.
- Ocean Warming and Acidification:
- Warmer temperatures result in the heating of the oceans, which impacts marine ecosystems, including coral reefs and marine species.
- Increased carbon dioxide absorption by the oceans leads to ocean acidification, posing risks to marine life and ecosystems.
- Extreme Weather Events:
- Global warming contributes to more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, hurricanes, storms, and heavy rainfall events.
- These events can result in property damage, loss of life, and disruptions to infrastructure and economies.
Addressing global warming requires global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to cleaner and renewable energy sources, increase energy efficiency, and promote sustainable practices in various sectors. International agreements like the Paris Agreement aim to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to keep it below 1.5 degrees Celsius.