It is impossible to have not heard of global warming, such is the importance put upon the phenomenon and the concerns it raises, but for many people the actual causes of global warming are sketchy at best. There is also a certain amount of controversy surrounding the subject, with different factions claiming different reasons – and varied levels of warming – and presenting conflicting evidence. Nevertheless there is no doubt that there has been, and is, some level of global warming in recent years, and here we take a quick look at what it is, the causes, and the feared consequences.
What is Global Warming?
Put simply, global warming is the increase in temperature of the earth's atmosphere caused, it is thought, by an increase in 'greenhouse gases' as found in many manmade implements. These gases have been introduced into the earth's atmosphere by man over the last hundred years or so, and while the use of some of the damaging gases has been curbed the effects are there. The result of global warming is a small but regular increase in overall temperature, and although on paper this looks minimal the belief is that the effect could be drastic.
What can be done?
Governments across the world have agreed to many restrictions on the use of fossil fuels – a major source of damaging greenhouse gases – and the developed world is committed to reducing the release of such gases into the atmosphere. Greater emphasis has been put on finding alternative and safe fuel sources, with natural elements such as the sun, the wind and even wave power being brought to the fore, and there is no doubt at all that this is the way forward if we are to help the planet get through what looks to be a very real period of crisis.
What will happen if it continues?
There have already been suggestions that global warming has had an effect on weather patterns; many people have pointed to increasing numbers of storms and increased rainfall on average, and the worry is that this – combined with the heating of the oceans – will result in rising sea levels in the future. The time scale and actual amount of these increases is open to conjecture and there are many different opinions, but there is no doubt among the scientific community that the result will come and is a very real threat. The concern is that even a small rise in sea levels could see low lying countries flooded, and many of these are heavily populated countries where the result could be utter devastation and massive loss of life.