The Greenhouse Effect seems to be the strongest factor of Climate Change on a global basis. It is responsible for heating up the Earth and changing Climate activities. The Greenhouse Effect is to Climate Change what Mark McGwire is to home runs!
The Greenhouse Effect is nothing new. Without it, the Earth would be about 33°C colder than it is today; an average of about -20°C. That is like a really cold winters day! A "Heat wave" might allow the temperature to rise just above the freezing point (0°C). An average autumn or winter day would drop the temperature to at least -40°C or -50°C. Imagine what record cold temperatures would look like!
The coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada was only -63°C in the Yukon. Almost normal in a world without the Greenhouse Effect!
For as long as humans have been around, the average temperature hasn't changed very much. Sure it changes from day to day and season to season, but the GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE has only risen about 5°C since the peak of the last ice age about 20,000 years ago. Now, all of a sudden, scientists are saying that the temperature could rise between 1°C and 3.5°C in the next 10 to 100 years. That's a huge change in a very small portion of time and there is concern that the Earth will not be able to adapt fast enough to deal with the changes! This sudden heating could be due to a lot of things. One reason is the increase of human caused Greenhouse Gas emissions into the atmosphere; An action that we can control!
|Carbon Dioxide (CO2)||*Nitrogen Oxides (NxO)||
* human produced gases
|Methane(CH4)||*Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6)|
|*Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's)||Ozone (O3)|
|*Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC's)||Water Vapour (H2O gas)|
We are all responsible! It is up to each of us to do our part to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. When we look at the broad scope of things, it is easy to see that industrialized nations are releasing the most Greenhouse Gas emissions. However, as developing nations enter their own industrial stages, their emissions will increase dramatically.
Will the Earth be able to sustain this increased burden?
During the last ice age, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dropped to 200 ppm. This rose to 280 ppm by the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The temperature also rose by 5°C. Since that time, there has been an increase of 30% (to 360 ppm). In the next century, it is expected that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will double! Methane concentration has also increased by 145% since the Industrial Revolution began and nitrous oxides have increased by 15%. What does this mean for our climate? What changes will we see in the future?
Ever since the industrial revolution (way back in the early 1900's when your parent's, parents were inventing things like televisions and cars) humans have been emitting increasing amounts of Greenhouse Gases into the air. The most common source of these gases is the burning of Fossil Fuels. Fossil Fuels include things like gasoline to run your car and coal to make electricity in power plants. Most commonly, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is released by the burning of any Fossil Fuels. CO2, like other Greenhouse Gases, rises up into the atmosphere, absorbs the heat of the long wave radiation reflected by the Earth's surface and holds it close to the Earth heating us up more and more.
A little heat is a great thing, but too much of a good thing leads to disaster! If it only takes a decrease in temperature of 5°C to reach the peak of an ice age, imagine what an increase of a few degrees could do!
If the forecasts happen, Canada could face:
The list goes on. The point is that Climate Change can effect your life in many ways. What happens will depend on where you live. To prevent these changes from happening so quickly, we all need to take individual action!
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