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What is Global Warming? – Definition, Causes, Effects and Impacts

  • Last Updated : 30 Sep, 2021
Geek Week

The presence of compounds in the atmosphere that are damaging to human and other living beings’ health, or that damage the climate or materials, is referred to as air pollution. Gases (such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, methane, carbon dioxide, and chlorofluorocarbons), particles (both organic and inorganic), and living molecules are all examples of air pollution. Air pollution can cause diseases, allergies, and even death in humans; it can also harm other living species including animals and food crops, as well as harm the natural environment (such as climate change, ozone depletion, and habitat destruction) and the built environment (for example, acid rain). Air pollution can be caused by both human activities and natural phenomena.

What is Greenhouse Effect?

“The greenhouse effect is the process through which solar energy is absorbed by greenhouse gases instead of being reflected back into space. This keeps the earth’s surface warm and prevents it from freezing.”

A greenhouse is a glass structure that is used to nurture plants. The greenhouse’s plants and air are warmed by the sun’s rays. The heat trapped inside cannot escape, warming the greenhouse, which is necessary for plant growth. The same is true of the earth’s atmosphere. The sun heats the earth’s atmosphere during the day. Heat is radiated back into the atmosphere as the earth cools at night. The heat is absorbed by the greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere throughout this process. This is what keeps the earth’s surface warm, and what allows living things to survive on the planet. However, the earth’s temperature has risen significantly as a result of higher amounts of greenhouse gases. This has had a number of significant consequences.

Greenhouse Gases: The gases that absorb infrared light and cause the greenhouse effect are known as greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons, for example.

Factories, autos, deforestation, and other sources of greenhouse gases are key contributors. The amount of these gases in the atmosphere increases as the number of factories and automobiles grows. The greenhouse gases never allow radiation to escape from the earth, raising the earth’s surface temperature. As a result, global warming occurs.



Causes of Greenhouse Effect are:

  1. Burning of Fossil Fuels: Fossil fuels play a significant role in our daily lives. They are frequently employed in transportation as well as in the generation of power. Carbon dioxide is released when fossil fuels are burned. The use of fossil fuels has increased as the world’s population has grown. As a result, the number of greenhouse gases released into the environment has increased.
  2. Deforestation: Carbon dioxide is taken up by plants and released by trees. There is a significant increase in greenhouse gases as a result of tree chopping, which raises the earth’s temperature.
  3. Farming: One of the contributors to the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, which is utilised in fertilisers.
  4. Industrial Waste and Landfills: Hazardous gases are produced by businesses and manufacturers and released into the atmosphere. Landfills also emit carbon dioxide and methane, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Effects of Greenhouse Effect are:

  • Depletion of  Ozone Layer: The ozone layer shields the earth from the sun’s deadly UV rays. It can be found in the stratosphere’s higher reaches. The ozone layer’s depletion allows damaging UV radiation to reach the earth’s surface, potentially causing skin cancer and radically altering the climate. The accumulation of natural greenhouse gases such as chlorofluorocarbons, carbon dioxide, and methane, among others, is the primary cause of this occurrence.
  • Smog and Air Pollution: The mixture of smoke and fog creates smog. It can be caused by both natural and man-made factors. Smog is caused by the accumulation of additional greenhouse gases, such as nitrogen and Sulphur oxides, in the atmosphere. Automobile and industrial emissions, agricultural fires, natural forest fires, and chemical reactions among these substances are all key factors to the development of smog.
  • Acidification of Water Bodies: Most of the world’s water bodies have become acidic as the total amount of greenhouse gases in the air has increased. Acid rain is formed when greenhouse gases combine with precipitation. Water bodies become acidified as a result of this. Furthermore, rainwater takes impurities with it and deposits them in rivers, streams, and lakes, producing acidification.

Global warming

Global warming is a steady increase in the earth’s average temperature, as measured by rising global surface temperatures, caused or influenced by continuous emissions of greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide and CFCs such as Methane and Nitrous oxide, as well as other air pollutants, polluting over 90% of the atmosphere and affecting climate sensitivity and precipitation levels.

The ‘Greenhouse Effect,’ as it is commonly known, is one of the principal causes of global warming. An authentic study has offered important facts to support the current condition of global warming, despite the fact that it is considered rather controversial.

To limit these emissions and mitigate the worsening consequences of climate change, widespread adoption and execution of appropriate remedies is required. We’ll now move on to a more in-depth explanation of the causes and impacts of global warming.

Causes of Global warming

The causes can be split into two categories: 

Man-made causes are:

  1. Higher levels of Deforestation: Deforestation alters the emission of aerosols and other chemical compounds, which impact clouds and wind patterns, causing precipitation levels to fluctuate. In the most fundamental sense, trees and plants are the major sources of oxygen. They maintain an ecological balance by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air, resulting in less air pollution. Carbon dioxide concentrations are rising as a result of planned human activities such as continuing forest destruction for industrial and commercial purposes. Carbon dioxide, as we all know, is one of the most important heat-trapping gases, and it is primarily responsible for global warming and environmental imbalance over the last few decades.
  2. Transportation and use of vehicles: People in today’s fast-paced society frequently use autos to travel short distances. Temperature rises are frequently caused by gaseous emissions from cars and trucks, which capture the energy and convert it to heat. Anthropogenic forcing, or human-influenced forces, encompasses such activities.
  3. Emissions of Chlorofluorocarbons: We all know that human-made causes have very strong tendencies toward growing global surface temperatures in today’s situation of successive climate imbalance and challenges of global warming. Commercialization and greater usage of technical appliances such as air conditioners and freezers are other elements that contribute to the reasons. The ozone layer in the atmosphere is in charge of shielding the earth’s temperature from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Such methods have resulted in an extra layer of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) in the air, reducing the ozone layer’s intensity.
  4. Emissions from industries and power plants: According to a report published in 2018, some of the world’s major human greenhouse gas emissions are nearly equal to 52 billion tonnes of CO2. Industry and power plants account for 72 percent of the total. Global warming has increased as a result of the development of industrialisation and the growing use of electricity and heat.
  5. Agriculture and land surface changes: Nearly half of the world’s habitable land is taken up by agricultural practices. Nearly a quarter of all permanent land-use change is influenced by short-term agricultural production. These activities also contribute to rising temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions.
  6. Combustion of fossil fuels, overpopulation: This category includes most of the heat-trapping emissions from factories and cars burning coal, gas, and oil, as well as extensive deforestation and rising amounts of black carbon pollution or ‘soot’ in the form of aerosols influencing the earth’s albedo. Carbon dioxide, which is influenced by expanding populations, is also the major gas responsible for global warming.

Natural causes of Global warming are:



  1. Volcanic eruptions: Because of the increasing release of gases and smoke from the eruptions, they are one of the major natural contributors to global warming.
  2. Natural forest fires: When large-scale vegetation burns, resulting in a forest fire, stored carbon is released, and greenhouse gas emissions rise. These emissions trap solar energy, even more, contributing to global warming.
  3. Melting permafrost and glaciers: Permafrost covers a significant portion of the planet’s north and south poles, trapping massive amounts of carbon. Solar activity, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions can cause a sudden release of greenhouse gases and carbon sequestration into the atmosphere, resulting in ecological imbalances.
  4. Solar activities: Changes in solar irradiance in wavelengths, as well as other fluctuations such as solar flares or sunspots, might have a massive impact on global warming and atmospheric temperatures if they are large enough.

Global warming effects and its impacts

Global warming has a wide range of societal, economic, and health consequences. It has the potential to create a great deal of harm if it continues in the same manner as it is currently. Here are some of the consequences:

  • Rise in temperature leading to ice melt: In the mid-latitudes, melting glaciers and snowmelt will result in severe water shortages and droughts, with increased frequency, giving way to heatwaves and extreme weather extremes. As the ice in the northern seas melts, the atmospheric conditions will become more difficult to control.
  • Ecological Risks: The expansion of dryer climatic zones such as deserts in the subtropics has been aided by global warming. Higher carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures would primarily influence ecosystems and animal life, resulting in the loss of many species and a reduction in ecological diversity.
  • The threat to marine life: Underwater, global warming has the potential to destroy marine and coral life. Carbon dioxide levels in the ocean are rising, causing damage to precious natural resources.
  • Loss of settlements: Inundation from sea-level rise can also be a result of global warming, posing a significant hazard to infrastructure and human populations. This has a significant impact on the human population. Droughts, rising temperatures, and the disappearance of glacial rivers have wreaked havoc on agriculture.
  • Health factors: Crop failures have a variety of indirect repercussions, such as starvation. Due to global warming, insufficient rainfall that leads to desertification can potentially cause a variety of diseases.
  • Flooding in low-altitude regions: Sea level rise and significant flooding potential can harm human settlement and result in catastrophic destruction.

Steps to reduce Air Pollution

  1. Using public transports: Taking public transportation, which uses less petrol and electricity, is a guaranteed method to contribute to reduced air pollution; even carpools help. Using public transportation can help you save money in addition to reducing the amount of fuel and gas released.
  2. Turn off the lights when not in use: Because the energy used by lights contributes to air pollution, reducing power consumption can help save energy. To aid the environment, use energy-saving fluorescent lighting.
  3. Recycle and Reuse: The concept of recycling and reuse not only helps to conserve resources and use them wisely, but it also helps to reduce pollution emissions, which is good for the environment. In addition, recycled materials use less energy to manufacture.
  4. No to plastic bags: Plastic items may be hazardous to the environment since they take a long time to degrade due to their oil-based composition. Instead, paper bags are a preferable option because they degrade quickly and are recyclable.
  5. Reduction of forest fires and smoking: The collection of waste and setting it ablaze in dry seasons, or dry leaves catching flames, is a major source of air pollution; also, smoking contributes to air pollution and deterioration of air quality, as well as harming one’s health.
  6. Use of fans instead of Air conditioners: The use of air conditioners consumes a lot of energy and produces a lot of heat, both of which are harmful to the environment. When compared to fans, air conditioners use a lot more power and energy to operate.
  7. Use filters for chimneys: The gas released by fireplaces in households and enterprises is particularly dangerous for air pollution and has a significant negative impact on air quality. If consumption cannot be reduced, filters should be used, as this will help to limit the effect of dangerous gases absorbed in the air.
  8. Avoid usage of crackers: Sadly, the usage of crackers at festivals and weddings is one of the primary causes of air pollution, resulting in a coating of haze that is exceedingly damaging to one’s health. As a result, it is recommended that no crackers be used.
  9. Avoid using products with chemicals: Paints and perfumes, for example, should be used less frequently or outside the house because they contain chemicals. The use of items with low chemical content and organic qualities could potentially be an option.
  10. Implement Afforestation: Last but not least, make a concerted effort to establish and nurture as many trees as possible. The technique of planting trees has numerous environmental benefits and aids in the release of oxygen.

Sample Questions

Question 1: What is the definition of global warming?

Answer

“Global warming” is defined as a steady increase in surface temperatures caused by increased emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, resulting in catastrophic climate change.
 

Question 2: What are the most pressing concerns about global warming?

Answer:

Industrialization, car use, fossil fuel burning, deforestation, and CFC emissions are only a few examples of man-made causes. Forest fires, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, volcanoes, and solar radiation imbalances are all natural causes

Question 3: What exactly do you mean when you say “ocean acidification”?

Answer:

When the acidity of the oceans rises as a result of increased dirty air circulation. Ocean acidification is the term for it. It has a significant negative impact on marine life.



Question 4: What is the greenhouse effect?

Answer:

“The greenhouse effect is the process through which solar energy is absorbed by greenhouse gases instead of being reflected back into space. This keeps the earth’s surface warm and prevents it from freezing.”

Question 5: What do you mean by greenhouse gases?

Answer:

The gases that absorb infrared light and cause the greenhouse effect are known as greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons, for example.

Question 6: What are the effects of the greenhouse effect and global warming?

Answer:

Effects of Green house effect are :

  • Depletion of  Ozone Layer
  • Acidification of Water Bodies
  • Smog and Air pollution

Effects of Global Warming are:

  • Rise in temperature leading to ice melt
  • Ecological Risks
  • The threat to marine life
  • Loss of settlements
  • Health factors
  • Flooding in low-altitude regions

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