What is Global Warming?
Global warming is a phenomenon related to increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide gas. Carbon-dioxide is a chemical product of burning carbon-containing materials such as coal, oil, gas, wood and paper.
Carbon dioxide has a special property whereby it can absorb light energy which has bounced off the surface of the earth and re-distribute it back into the atmosphere, rather than allowing it to pass back into space, hence an overall trapping of energy and the term ‘greenhouse gas’ attributed to carbon dioxide. This is fine as long as the balance is right.
Before the invention of the steam engine, the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was just under 280 parts per million (ppm); it has since risen to 405 ppm, which is a 45% increase from pre-industrial revolution levels.
We have proof that this imbalance is heating the planet, and that means that ice is melting in the polar regions, affecting biodiversity, threatening the habitats of our much loved fellow creatures such as the emperor penguins and polar bears.
In addition we are seeing changes in the way of ocean acidification, which has already caused changes in colour to parts of the great barrier reef, and is expected to affect shellfish populations.
What can we do?
We can reduce our personal consumption of power for heating and transportation – the biggest contributors to our ‘carbon footprints’. We can avoid the use of fossil fuels where possible.
We can reduce global warming by not burning fossil fuels and preventing deforestation, as trees are very useful sinks for carbon dioxide.