The world is progressively warming at an exponential rate in which soon it could completely catch on fire. Well maybe not that far, but the consequences sure are scary. Global warming-or climate change- is a severe problem in the modern world that was caused by humans and is leading to the death and even extinction of many species eventually including humans too. Some people may deny that global warming is a problem or even real, but science has proven its existence and many people have seen its aftermath themselves. There are quite a few factors that led to this warming of the Earth, and almost all are caused by humans.
Global warming is a real problem that the world has been dealing with and is continuing to get worse as time progresses, and the main cause of it is the human race. There is a shielding layer in the atmosphere protecting the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation-or UV radiation- called the ozone layer. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) themselves have said that UV radiation can cause cancer and damages crops and marine life. So logically humans would want to protect this layer to try and stop the damage it can do to all life on Earth, but instead, humans are tearing away at it. Research done by the EPA has proved that the ozone layer is being depleted beyond natural cause due to the use of many industrial products such as aerosols. But there is another factor that is somehow more damaging than the deprivation of the ozone layer, and of course, is also caused by humans. That is the drastic increase in greenhouse
gases in the environment. As state by the EPA, greenhouse gases are gases that heat up the atmosphere by absorbing the energy from the sun, and these gases include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. And mankind is mass producing all of these gases. Most production of electricity for the world produces dangerous numbers of these gases as a result, transportation, and even agriculture are giving the same effect. And the reason why climate change was never really a problem in the past is that most of these contributors to the making greenhouse gases are very new and a result of industrialization but come with this great problem. As the United States very Environmental Protection Agency said, these gases are “thickening the Earth's blanket.” Global warming is a very real and serious problem that is only getting worse and worse. Humans are the root of this problem and must make an effort to end the dangerous warming of the globe.
Global warming has done terrible damage to the Earth and its inhabitants, and it plans on doing much worse. Endless species of animals have been knocked down by global warming forced to change their homes and behaviors. However, some were incapable of this and thus have gone extinct. According to environmental scientist Christine Dell’Amore, two amphibian species have already completely died off and gone extinct with climate change holding responsibility. Along with these two extinct species countless other species are in terrible danger and are losing their homes as a result of global warming, and mankind seriously needs to end this. Not only is global warming directly damaging these animals, but there as also side effects that can also lead to problems. Rebecca Selden, a marine ecologist, said that climate change is causing marine life to migrate and different preys and predators are encountering each other for the first time and as Selden said, this can cause “some big ecosystem effects” which are not necessarily good. Global warming is bringing a dark future that can and will include complete extinction for all animals on Earth, and this does, of course, include humans. In Mark Lynas’ book “Six Degrees” he walks the reader through what the world would be like as it heats up one degree at a time, but as said in the title it only goes up to six degrees. This is because Lynas believes there is no point to continue after six degrees because after the global average temperature rises six degrees there will be no life left on Earth to known what it will be like. From the destruction of coral reefs to all life on Earth being wiped off like a rag cleaning spilled water. Global warming quite possibly will lead to the end of the world, unless it is stopped.
Lots of damage has already been done to the world and there is still a lot more to come, but how can it be stopped or at least halted? Society probably is not ready for massive changes all at once which although that is what the Earth needs, it is a bit unlikely. The best place to start would be by decreasing the production of harmful aerosols and to stop relying on foam insulation. But even NASA agrees that what will really help out is by cutting down as hard as possible on the production of greenhouse gases. This would for one mean finding a viable energy solution to replace burning fossil fuels. Solar energy, geothermal, and even wind turbines all have the potential to be solutions to this problem. Along with that agriculture and transportation need to be changed to produce less greenhouse gases. Pollution is another big contributor that needs to stop, plastic is being produced and then simply thrown out at unbelievable levels and this is only causing more and more problems that could and should be ended. Along with all that deforestation needs to also end, not only is it taking away the homes of animals but also destroying the Earth’s natural way of converting the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the oxygen we breathe, something mankind cannot achieve but desperately needs to be done. With the Earth warming at frightening rates, endless consequences are to come, but they can and really need to be stopped.
Mankind is heating up the Earth to the point that the damage done is already irreversible with only more and worse damage to come. Global warming is real and it is a crisis that has killed off entire animal species and crippled countless others and is now coming after humans. But there actually is still hope, society does not need to adapt it needs to change their very environment and fight back against the deprivation of the ozone layer and fight back against the greenhouse gases so life can do what it was meant to do and live on.
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The Greenhouse Effect is described as the heat trapping mechanism that radiates from gasses across the Earth’s atmosphere. Without the Earth’s surface being heated up by this phenomena, it would be a cold place to live (National Research Council, 2010). While it is essential, the concern is that anthropogenic causes lead to unprecedented amount of heat is being trapped in our atmosphere, the scientific evidence of changing the global climate at unprecedented amounts is no longer up for debate. In terms of the importance of this topic to conservation biology: if humans don’t make appreciable effort to reduce impacts, now, the current options will be more difficult to implement later. Governments can control human activities at a larger scale than they can environmental flows, and as such the proper governing solutions toward human activity should be implemented to see through the successful impact on the environment (Reyes & Gilbertson, 2010).
This being an issue for human and ecological sustainability is no longer up for debate, as consequences of rising sea levels, cost of losing essential ecosystem services become apparent, actions to reduce and alter behavior are necessary now more than ever (Stavins, 2008). It is not compelling that dominant source of emissions and contributor to the Greenhouse Effect is carbon. The U.S alone contributed over 1.46 million metric tons of carbon in the atmosphere second only to China, the majority of it due to burning fossil fuels (Quéré, Peters, Andres, Andrew, Boden & Ciais 2013). The controversial nature remains in the effectiveness of the programs implemented to reduce emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol is the most notable international effort to reduce emissions, but it fell short on garnering support from major polluting countries but these countries are making moves in the right direction on their own (Kollmuss, Schneider, Zhezherin, 2015). The diversity of ways in which energy is supplied and used such as transportation provides ample opportunities to reduce energy-related emissions.
Two examples are Carbon credits, or setting a limit and offsetting emission impacts through other reduction activities is one way to reduce emissions. This method recognizes the inevitability of pollution and provides incentive to act in order to reduce impacts (Wara, 2007). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an institution of scientists that recognizes these players in determining how to pursue carbon and other pollutions emissions providing a balanced view respecting environmental and economic needs. The other method is carbon sequestration to achieve the removal of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere by injecting them beneath the earth or by planting forests for long term storage (IPCC, 2014). For all methods, achieving reductions faces because it involves considerations of human behavior and preferences; economics; multiple time frames for decision making and results (National Research Council, 2010) , the myriad stakeholders seek make it difficult to project future sustainability.
Ultimately engaging in carbon reduction practices will increase the price of nonrenewable energy, reducing consumption and jobs for lower wage earners in those industries (Bauer, 2013). This is an important sector of the economy especially in the U.S, China, India in the E.U, and other industrialized nations. As a result, politicians are understandably hesitant to actively pass legislation to protect constituents and interests groups and seek to provide sufficient time for the industries to adapt to policies (Shaffer, 2010). The E.U is the exception to the rule because they are continuously aiming toward a local European objective of lower emissions and they enjoy the health related benefits indirectly provided, not a global one. E.U’s policy and other nations’ lack thereof highlights how government activity plays the largest role on curbing emissions. Since the air we breathe isn’t limited to a geopolitical area, governments are responding to reflect their concern for the health of their people, first (IPCC, 2014).
By creating an artificial market where some permits are freely given and others are sold, proponents claim that this solution is the most efficient for businesses and will guarantee the most measureable results (Kollmuss, Schneider, Zhezherin, 2015). This bodes well for large fossil fuel and natural gas producers who can both reduce emissions and earn revenue in the form of credits for future use. Consequently, the question in management method comes to play. In Russia and Uzbekistan, carbon emissions rose 2.3% as well as increase in harmful pollutants that weren’t included in their plan. This is perceived as a flaw of the plan, sustainability requires an overall approach, and offsetting a large quantity one harm for the opportunity to increase the use of another do not neutralize each other. Environmentalists that disagree with cap and trade leave a wide margin for corruption, an example being the Russian and Uzbekistan initiative which actually lead to more pollution being produced.
In the U.S, the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act has been charged with developing pollution regulations to protect human health and then the environment. The argument has been made by Energy lobbyists that reducing carbon and its byproducts emissions have resulted in job loss, and has not helped clean the air (Wara, 2007) has little merit, considering that better health and innovation achieved by increasing standards for efficiency and controlling for carbon and other pollutions after regulations implemented since the 70s resulted in a net benefit to the growth of the economy overall (Stavins, 2008).
Developing countries, business people, free market economists and politicians who are hesitant to apply emissions control are primarily concerned with the method, the cost, and the effectiveness of controlling emissions. Countries that do not have infrastructure to track, reduce, and continually monitor must import the methods or rely on international support to do so (Reyes & Gilbertson, 2010). To counter the argument that these economies cannot be competitive is to ask them to reconsider what valuable resources they can capitalize to maintain the integrity of their air quality with renewable energy.
What can be done, in the U.S, is follow local examples while the federal and international actors catch up. Theirs is a combination of cap and trade incentives that has resulted in a net reduction of carbon emissions and revenue to fund further research and development of renewable energy and emissions reduction. Schaffer looks at the effect of long-term implantation of a carbon emission reduction program, the analysis reveals that such taxes would generate revenues equaling $21 trillion to $32 trillion by the end of the century (Schaffer, 2010). That translates to a net economic benefit of around $20 trillion, in addition to potentially staving off the worse impacts of climate change and providing citizens with cleaner air and water. The profits from carbon taxes are being used for green-energy projects and climate adaptation efforts.
What I think needs to be done and a lot of people agree up is something more powerful than government setting limits on industries and pollutants. No doubt, if regulatory bodies did not set standards for pollution, they would not be lowered as they were. The larger the scope of the governing body, the more difficult it is to manage as corruption and communication of objectives become blurred. In the U.S, the current subsidies for oil and natural gas are too significant to diminish the value perceived by the public in reducing carbon heavy utilities (Lazo, 2014).
Bauer, N., Mouratiadou, I., Luderer, G., Baumstark, L., Brecha, R. J., Edenhofer, O., Kriegler, E. (2013): Global fossil energy markets and climate change mitigation – an analysis with REMIND. Climatic Change, Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-013-0901-6
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Groups. (2014). Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Summary for policymakers. InClimate change 2014: synthesis report. Summary for policymakers. IPCC.
Kollmuss, A., Schneider, L., & Zhezherin, V. (2015). Has Joint Implementation reduced GHG emissions? Lessons learned for the design of carbon market mechanisms.
Lazo, Alejandro (2014, September, 28th) “How Cap-and-Trade is working in California” Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-cap-and-trade-is-working-in-california-1411937795
Le Quéré, C., Peters, G. P., Andres, R. J., Andrew, R. M., Boden, T., Ciais, P., ... & Yue, C. (2013). Global carbon budget 2013. Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss, 6(2), 689-760.
National Research Council (US). Committee on America's Climate Choices. (2010). Advancing the Science of Climate Change: America's Climate Choices. National Academies Press.
Reyes, O., & Gilbertson, T. (2010). Carbon trading: How it works and why it fails. Soundings, (45), 89-100. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/753949499?accountid=7113
Shaffer, G. (2010). Long-term effectiveness and consequences of carbon dioxide sequestration. Nature Geoscience, 3(7), 464-467.
Stavins, R. N. (2008). A meaningful US cap-and-trade system to address climate change.
Wara, M. (2007). Is the global carbon market working? Nature, 445(7128), 595+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA185449091&v=2.1&u=txshracd2679&it=r&p=HRCA&asid=c305753200304b47e858a49753278380
Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? It is a theory purposed by a mathematician called Edward Lorenz, who claimed that a hurricane can develop from the slightest motion in air, even caused by a butterfly flapping its wings. The first time I heard about it was in a science fiction movie, thus I didn’t take it too seriously because of its unrealistic content. However, gradually over time, I have come to realize that this theory is also a powerful metaphor that even the slightest action you take may change the world in an unexpected way. Have you ever imagined that perhaps a decision you make today could greatly affect our society in the near future? Have you ever thought about it a second time before buying new notebooks with silky-smooth, white paper, or the consequences of owning a beautiful set of furnitures created by rare wood? Did it ever occur to you that the red cups at college parties are unnaturally vivid and red? While there are extreme cases where people completely dismiss the idea of man-made global warming, the majority of the people are simply unaware of the daily aesthetic choices which are harmful to the environment. The main cause of global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, are largely caused by humans with wasteful mass production and pollution. Therefore by reviewing the everyday aesthetics of non-eco-friendly consumer choices, this serious threat we face can be slowly but surely brought to downtempo.
Our atmosphere is made up of gases, such as nitrogen, oxygen, and CO2; some of these gases absorb heat and thus reducing the amount that escapes to space. This is what is called the “greenhouse effect,” the main cause of global warming. This issue has not come up much in the recent years because climate scientists have been debating the “hiatus” in global warming. Many explanations for why global temperatures had not risen significantly in the last decade were given, but the debate was cut short in June 2014; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a study claiming the “hiatus” never existed (Stefan). In fact, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that “The year 2014 is on track to be the warmest, or one of the warmest years on record” (Stefan). Even in recent years, some scientists continue to debate the extent to which humans are causing global warming, but the majority of climate scientists agree that humans are the main force behind the sharp global warming uprise of the past century. Indeed, as Yuriko Saito debates in Everyday Aesthetics, “everyday aesthetic tastes and attitudes [of humans] often do lead to consequences which go beyond simply being preoccupied with and fussing with the surface, and that they affect not only our daily life but also the state of the society and the world.” Consumers tend to purchase products that are most attractive in their purchasing powers, but what looks enchanting on the outside is not necessarily the best product for our planet, considering the harmful consequences in the process of its production and usage.
Our society today is highly “style-conscious,” most of the time with “aesthetic considerations” driving our purchasing decisions (Saito). This style varies from the designs of the products to the way in which goods are marketed, including its advertisement and the environment where the product is placed in. Unfortunately the favorable style the majority of the consumers find most attractive is not the most environmentally friendly aesthetic choices. For example, one cause for tropical deforestation is the “consumers’ appetite for rare wood, such as mahogany and rosewood, for furniture.” Rain forests, just like any other green plants exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen during photosynthesis, which would help slow down the greenhouse gas emission. However when trees are cut down, carbon restored in their body is released as carbon dioxide, thus contributing dually to global warming. More examples of aesthetic choices worsening global warming include consumers preferring “perfectly smooth paper with a glossy finish of virgin wood” and products with “vibrant, vivid colors produced by chemically based inks and dyes” (Saito). Even in the production of so-called “‘natural’ fibers, such as cotton and wool,” the process often includes “extensive finishing processes that utilize large amounts of energy, water, and a number of toxic chemicals” since the products would not sell without the particular “appearance and feel of the fabric” the consumers demand (Saito).
Some people may feel temporary satisfaction to be environmental-friendly by using recycled/reused products which they find innovative and interesting. However, it is an undeniable fact that these products are not the mainstream. Even those who claim to always use green products will be unconsciously contributing to greenhouse gas emission, and as for the rest of the majority, they will not have any contacts with goods claiming to use green materials. In fact, “advertising for green products often downplays their ecological value, for fear that emphasizing it may give an impression of their aesthetic inferiority” (Saito). The current issue therefore is the ingrained image of eco-friendly products being unattractive. Thus, one may simply say that we could try to increase our knowledge on the relations of ecological implications through our actions; there are more sides of appeal to a product than its appearance. But that itself isn’t enough.
Consider the example of an extremely green lawn, which typically uses pesticides and fertilizers which contains toxic chemicals and requires a ridiculous amount of water and fuel for maintenance. On the surface it is extremely beautiful and pleasing, but after realizing the background of its superficial beauty, it is “irresponsible of us not to incorporate this knowledge into our experience of it” (Saito). However, this does not mean eco-friendly products should appear unattractive, but instead, “green aesthetic sensibility should guide us to modify our initial attraction with a sense of ‘disillusionment’ created by the discrepancy between the seemingly beautiful appearance and its harmful content” (Saito). This should lead the viewers to feel guilty for finding the green lawn beautiful earlier on, or at the least, it should no longer appear innocently aesthetically pleasing. As inhabitants of this planet, consumers should have the responsibility to educate themselves about the aftermath of human production and activities and with that knowledge, “find a way to relate the knowledge gathered to the sensuous appearance of the object” (Saito). However, this burden should not be exclusively placed on the consumers, but also the manufacturers.
Aldo Leopold, one of the foremost environmentalists claimed that humans can be “ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand and love” (Schmandt). It is unlikely for students to choose recycled pencil cases over trendy pouches that makes them seem “cooler”, just like most people would prefer to purchase new clothing over used clothing. Thus, in green architecture, an energy efficient apartment using solar energy should not have solar panels effortlessly pasted on the roof. With the solar paneled housing system being expensive, consumers capable and willing to afford such a system have the purchasing power of living in a more attractive designer housing. In such a situation, why would these consumers want to live in an unattractive house, even if it claims to be better for the planet? Overall, it is inevitable for humans to prioritize on their own needs over the greater issues of our environment. Thus, it is simply not enough for green architecture to be environmental-friendly, but to be visually appealing. Christopher Hawthorne, a green architect says, “if a building is beloved, it will be maintained and preserved — and there is nothing more environmentally friendly than longevity” (Saito). Furthermore, adding on to the concept of important role of designers and producers in the consumption of green products, Victor Papanek, a designer and an educator, often reminded his own colleagues that “design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environment (and, by extension, society and himself). This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer” (Papanek). Overall, producers and designers must prove to the consumers that eco-friendly products are not necessarily aesthetically inferior.
In the cases of architectural structures, this solution is simply a matter of time and effort until green architects design environmentally and aesthetically pleasing structures, but there are technical limitations to others. For example, Sally Fox, a Yolo County cotton breeder and owner of the business Natural Cotton Colors, managed to produce all shades of color produced with non-toxic dyes and chemicals. These colored cotton are even more appealing for the fact that it grows darker and not lighter with washing. Although Fox’s business was a massive success, she in the end, was unable to produce black dyed cotton (Sacramento). In consideration of such restrictions, eco-friendly products should be marketed different from ordinary goods, but without ignoring the aesthetic standard the consumers demand. We cannot celebrate “plain biodegradable dresses and unbleached ‘Eco-Tees’ made of stiff, cardboard panels of recycled cotton tinted with environmentally sensitive dyes; lip sticks made of beet juice and face powder of brown oat flour; non-toxic, formaldehyde-free woolen pajamas” (Saito).
When simply said, designers and producers must not be in high spirits that environmentally-friendly products will sell just because it is a recent popular trend. Trends are not permanent; in order to reverse the mainstream aesthetic choices that worsen global warming into an ongoing eco-friendly action, the popular aesthetic taste must be maintained as it is, while having the eco-friendly design slowly fuse in to overtake the existing style and eventually become the new ordinary. Buildings and cars could be reconsidered of its designs to become more aesthetically and environmentally friendly, while designers could create a luxury brand line using eco-friendly materials. There could even possibly be a regulation among the producers to require a portion of their materials to include recycled materials to make the practice mainstream. Overall, by viewing consumer preference through an aesthetic lens, consumers can realize and educate themselves about their unconscious generation of pollution, while producers and designers can make sure that the majority of the choices of goods and services are considerate to the environment. Global warming unfortunately cannot be completely stopped, but with more people caring about what they produce and consume, the process will assuredly slow down to allow us to see the beauty of mother Earth for longer.