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Journal 7: Global Warming: Myth or Reality?

For the past decade, global warming has been a controversial topic, present in almost everyday news. However, is global warming myth or reality? In order to decide, let’s take a look at some facts.

Global warming is the cause of a natural process going out of control: the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a natural process in which the Earth absorbs huge amounts of energy from solar radiation. Most of this radiation is reflected by the surface back into space; however, the atmosphere, especially gases like water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane, retain part of the radiation. The net effect of this absorption is a rise in temperature, which is completely necessary in order to sustain life as we know in our planet. If these gases didn’t absorb radiation, the average temperature in Earth would be less that the necessary for life processes. With that said, the greenhouse effect is both perfectly natural and necessary. What’s the problem then?

The problem is that the concentration of the aforementioned gases in the atmosphere should remain constant in order for the greenhouse effect to be normal; however, combustion of fossil fuels has generated anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane, which ultimately are released into the atmosphere, augmenting the concentration of greenhouse gases. These gases “enhance” the greenhouse effect, which results in a net increase in the temperature worldwide.

The net increase in temperature is a very serious problem. Global warming accelerates evaporation rates because the surface temperature is higher. If evaporation increases, so does precipitation. Higher levels or precipitation create floods. Global warming also distorts weather patterns, which result in droughts in places where water supply is scarce. It also heats oceans. If oceans have warmer waters, the increased amount of kinetic energy in water molecules results in the formation of stronger hurricanes. Stronger hurricanes devastate agriculture, which is a serious problem for food supplies. The chain goes on indefinitely.

Still think global warming is a myth? Think again. It is a serious problem and we all can contribute to stop it – or strengthen it – if we decide to do so. Humans have “enhanced” the greenhouse effect. Humans have accelerated global warming. Humans are destroying the habitats of thousands of species. Yet humans have the power to stop it. The fate of humanity is in our hands.

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