Recently, the topic of global warming and climate change has been of contentious discussions by scientists and lawmakers. Due to the impacts implicated by the recent climatic changes, politics and science have come at loggerheads on ways to mitigate such effects. These two parties, in a bid to achieve such endeavors, first sought to understand the causes of climatic changes to propose solutions. In their discussions, two aspects emerged predominantly as being the root causes. The first cause is the human factors also known as anthropogenic climate changes. The second cause is the natural forces. The need to fight climatic changes is one left not only for lawmakers and scientists but also for the global community at large; it is achievable through comprehension of root causes and implementation of resourceful strategies. Global warming has negative impacts on humans and environment, therefore, prompting the need for policy regulations and scientific measures to counter its effects.
Natural versus Anthropogenic Climate Changes
The Sun’s energy is the main natural force causing as its energy output influencing various climatic changes. It plays a huge role in the short-term and long-term global warming. The number of sunspots indicates the amount of energy from it received by the Earth. Since there are variations in the output of the Sun on all timescales, the sunspots are displayed as small dark regions on the solar disk. Increased heat waves result to stronger sunspots and increased effects.
The Orbit change is the second main natural force that contributes to global warming therefore, posing as a major challenge in dealing with climatic change. Every 41,000 years, the Earth’s orbit tilt varies between 22 and 25 degrees. The tilt brings about major climatic changes. A good example of climatic change as a result of the changes in the orbit is the Sahara desert. The desert transformed from a very productive and fertile grassland to a desert due to the variations in the tilts of the orbit.
Anthropogenic climate change is the production of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity. Human activities include setting up of green houses, increased used of fertilizers and pesticides, and chemicals. The gases trap and absorb heat. Their increased and continuous use has enabled more heat to be retained in the atmosphere and as a result increasing the temperatures on the global surface. Carbon dioxide, although a small part of the atmosphere, is one of the most important greenhouse gases. Second to it is methane. Its human use and consequent emission, nonetheless, contributes immensely to the ongoing climatic challenges and increased global warming.
Other human activities including burning of fossils and deforestation also contribute to the release of carbon dioxide. Combustion of oil and related fossil fuel emits gases such as carbon dioxide. These carbon dioxide gas remains trapped in the atmosphere and contributes to the destruction of the O-zone layer. Additionally, increased cutting down of trees and destruction of natural vegetation, referred to as deforestation, contributes to climatic challenges. Natural vegetation reduces soil erosion, improves soil fertility, contributes to oxygen and carbon dioxide flow, and provides shade and beauty. Andres and Peltier suggest that burning of fuels and deforestation negatively affect the atmosphere by increasing carbon dioxide levels, allowing erosion, and allowing for heat accumulation.
Existence of Global Warming
Global warming exists and its effects are slowly but gradually spreading across various parts of the world. The increasing temperature levels during the past century is a clear indicator of global warming. The global sea level has increased at a high rate over the past few years. The unusual changes in the precipitation pattern are a clear evidence that global warming is taking place. These changes have contributed to development of typhoons, flash floods, hurricanes such as Hurricane Katrina and Sandy, and a predominant El Nino. Additionally, various regions of the continent have experienced heat waves, such as the May, 2015 India heat wave.
Current Mitigation Strategies for Global Warming
Carbon sequestration involves the intake and storage of the element of carbon. The best example to demonstrate carbon sequestration is the process of photosynthesis in plants, which absorb carbon dioxide and store carbon during growth. Trees are important in reducing global warming because they reduce the carbon that would otherwise rise up to the atmosphere and trap heat. Forests and areas where vegetation is abundant should be preserved to promote the idea of carbon sequestration as a mitigation strategy. Planting of trees should be emphasized because forests absorb and store large quantities of carbon.
There is also a technological approach to dealing with carbon sequestration where engineers are working hard to develop man-made ways of capturing carbon. The carbon from coal-fired plants and industries is buried deep within the oceans or Earth. Carbon dioxide capture through sequestration can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable generation of low-carbon electricity from the power plants. This mitigation strategy is criticized because it captures carbon produced from burning fossils instead of replacing the sources of electricity with mechanisms that are environmentally friendly. Critics also argue that instead of disposing carbon dioxide after it is already produced, mechanisms should be put in place to completely stop production.
Clean Coal Technology
Clean coal technology refers to the methods that are used to remove pollutants from coal. Carbon dioxide is the focus since it is the main pollutant produced. When coal arrives at a power plant, it contains some mineral content that can be harmful if burnt together with it. There are processes that should be followed to ensure the unnecessary material is removed and the coal burns efficiently. Coal cleaning by washing involves grinding coal into particles that are very small. The coal is fed into barrels that contain a fluid that causes the coal to float because of its fluid density.
Potential Costs and Policy Implications
The stated mitigation measures have certain incurred costs and challenges to policies. To begin with, carbon sequestration is costly, as it would entail setting up for new plants to process artificially the carbon. Furthermore, the environmental challenges associated with carbon storage in the Earth would contribute to soil pollution and increased soil acidity that would damage plants. For countries and companies to implement clean coal technology, certain regulations ought to be drafted. Such regulations would entail curbing amount of coal mined and processed in factories and in hand affecting the overall energy levels. Additionally, policymakers would need to impose strict fines on companies that break such rules, placing them at loggerheads with multinational corporations.
Effectiveness of the Mitigation Strategies and the Costs and Policy Implications
The two mitigation strategies have been very successful in reducing the carbon levels in the atmosphere hence reducing global warming. When choosing a mitigation strategy, it is important to consider the cost and policy implications associated with the strategy. Jang and Hart propose that a good mitigation strategy should absorb high rates of carbon or prevent carbon from reaching the atmosphere at the lowest cost possible. They add that such policies should be put in place to ensure the emission of greenhouse gases are reduced as they are the main contributors to global warming.
Policy Changes that can Help to Stabilize Global Climate and the Nations that Require Strict Standards
To stabilize the global climate, scientists and lawmakers should regulate and implement the use of energy-efficient and low carbon technology. These technological mechanisms generate low carbon outputs while supplying the required energy. Such is a long-term solution for dealing with global warming. The process of planting trees should be encouraged globally to counter carbon levels in every region. Policy instruments such as efficiency standards and incentives should be used to invest in infrastructure geared towards reducing carbon emissions.
The nations greatly affected by global warming should be held to more strict standards. Bangladesh and Sudan are the two most affected countries. The people of Bangladesh are complaining because of floods that are destroying crops, homes and spreading diseases. The Sudan desert is expanding as a result of rising temperatures. The desert is eating into the farmland causing food shortage.
Climate change is a global problem that should be addressed with consolidated seriousness and unity. The natural forces and human factors should be critically analyzed to determine the right strategies to be employed in dealing with global warming. An effective mitigation strategy should be cost effective and should reduce the levels of carbon reaching the atmosphere to prevent the increasing temperatures. Policy changes should be put in place to help the nations that are greatly affected by global warming. Overall, policymakers should hold accountable persons, corporations, and countries that break global warming regulations. In addition, the world should be encouraged to participate in the healing process towards developing a sustainable Earth for future generations.