GLOBAL WARMING; The Present And Future Threat of Human Species - Abiodun Lambaba Blog



Sunday, 29 March 2020

GLOBAL WARMING; The Present And Future Threat of Human Species

Yuval Noah Harari__ An historian and a great writer once said “There are three threats facing the future of human species which are Global Warming, Nuclear War and Technological Disruption”. In order to prevent the future of humanity from one of these calamities, this article therefore focuses on the meaning, causes, effects and mitigation of global warming as one of the imminent threat.
Global warming is one of the major problems facing the world presently and there is high probability of it posing a threat to the future of human species if appropriate care is not taken.  According to National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA) on earth observatory, global warming can be define as an increase in the average temperature of the earth surface and oceans caused as a result of uncontrollable emission of greenhouse gases from human activities. This usually occurs when radiation from sun hits the surface of the earth which in turns causes the earth to be hotter than usual as a result of the heat-bounce from the radiation towards the atmospheric region of the earth surface. It has been noted that right from industrial revolution which can be dated back to early 19th century, human activities involving burning of fossil fuel is increasingly contributing to the heating of the earth surface which in-turns lead to global warming. Global warming causes a significant implication on both the environment and the health status of humans and animals. This article will be rendered incomplete without explaining what greenhouse gases are.
Gases present in the atmosphere which have the ability and capability of emitting above the normal level of thermal infrared are called greenhouse gases. Emission of these gases causes the earth atmosphere to experience more heat than usual which is not unfavorable for the lives of both plants and animals. These gases includes methane, ozone, carbon-dioxide, nitrous oxide etc. they are also called “heat trapping gases” due to their ability to trap heat from the space and release it to the earth surface thereby contributing to global warming. The warming of the earth has caused the sea level to be rising, glacier to be melting and diversification in precipitation patterns.

Environmental And Health Implication Of Global Warming

Environmental effects of global warming includes high rate of flood and drought, extreme heat waves, hurricanes, heavier rainfall and frequent storm amidst others. The devastating effect of global warming is already evident in the recent bushfire outbreak in Australia which has emanated from extreme heat waves; this has claimed 25 lives of people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes. Other environmental effects of global warming include heavy rainfall which can lead to high flood rate and render the drinking water unsafe thus increasing the risk of water borne disease like diarrhea, a disease which has been reported as being responsible for the annual death of more than 500,000 children under the age of 5years old. Also high rate of temperature can lead to low rainfall and decrease in precipitation or draught which can cause low or no yield of farm produce and decrease in production of staple foods in poorest country. As reported by World Health Organization, decrease in food production can invariably lead to malnutrition and under-nutrition which accounted for 3.1 million annual deaths.

Apart from the devastating effect of global warming on the environments, it also poses a risk to human health. Both the social and environmental determinant of health is affected by global warming. Global warming can lead to extreme rise in temperature of the environment which can invariably cause the death of elderly people especially those with incident of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Increase in earth temperature result in constant circulation of airborne pollutants, pollens and air allergen released by microorganisms leading to airborne infection like asthma. Female anopheles mosquito and dengue virus known to be the vector of malaria and dengue fever respectively are widely spread during extreme temperature caused as result of global warming. Evidently, World Health Organization (WHO) reported that malaria kills over 400,000 people annually, mainly under 5 years old children from African countries and Nigeria is not left behind. 250,000 additional death is expected between 2030 and 2050; 38,000 from heat exposure in elderly people, 48,000 from diarrhea, 60,000 from malaria and 95,000 death from under-nutrition among children.

Major Causes Of Global Warming
There are many causes of global warming most of which arise from human activities, only three known to be the major causes are discussed in this article, this includes Burning of fossils fuel, Deforestation without afforestation and Agricultural activities.
Burning of Fossil Fuels: This is the major causes of global warming and it involves burning of fossil fuels which includes coal, natural gas and oil through human activities such cooking, industrial activities, transportation, power generation etc. all these activities are changing the natural greenhouse effect of the earth surface as much carbon-dioxide are added to the atmosphere through coal and oil burning activities. Since fossil fuels produce large quantity of carbon-dioxide when burned, this emission of carbon in turns trap the heat in the earth atmosphere and lead to global warming.
Deforestation without Afforestation: This is another human activity that has contributed to the global warming. This involves felling down of forest trees without replacement. Forest trees, like all other green plants obtain their food through the process of photosynthesis and this involves trapping of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere and releasing of oxygen into the environment. During respiration, plants emit small amount of carbon-dioxide in contrary to photosynthesis where large amount of CO2 is consumed, excess amount of carbon is stored in the plant and use for growth. During deforestation when trees are fallen down or cut, the stored carbon combine with the air in the environment forming carbon-dioxide (a greenhouse gas) which trap the heat in the space and cause global warming thus putting human and animal lives at risk.

Agricultural Activities: Agricultural activities contribute to the global warming by releasing the three most common greenhouse gases (methane, carbon-dioxide and nitrous oxide) known presently to be causes of global warming. Activities such as soil management allow Nitrogen to react with Oxygen when the soil is disturbed and nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas) is formed. Other activities that add nitrogen to the soil includes fertilizer application, irrigation and draining. Also burning of biomass is another agricultural activities which contributes to global warming, during the process of biomass burning, greenhouse gases are released which poses a greater risk to human and animal lives. Manure management is another farming activities that contribute to global warming, poultry and livestock manures are often deposited at the tanks, ocean, ponds and this result in anaerobic digestion of deposited waste which lead to the release of greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon-dioxide and nitrous oxide. These are few examples of agricultural activities contributing to global warming.
Other activities like Mining, Industrialization etc. also contribute to the global warming due to their activities which involves emission of greenhouse gases.

Mitigating Against Global Warming
Global warming is caused as a result of human activities and this have a devastating impact on the lives of both humans and animal. In order to mitigate against global warming and to prevent the future of humanity from this threat, it is therefore essential to look for a way out.
First and foremost, the problem of global warming arises from high rate of fossils fuel burning due to its importance in human activities such as transportation and energy generation etc. However, there is need to find an alternative cleaner energy system with little or no emission of greenhouse gases to the use of fossils fuel in our activities. Alternatives like biofuel, wind and solar power is highly recommended as other safe means of generating electricity, this is because they are environmentally safe as compare to the use of fossil fuel, most especially biofuels. Biofuels are any fuels produced from plant materials and this can be used instead of fossil fuels, it is environmentally safe with no harmful effect on environment as it appears to be zero net emitters of greenhouse gases.
Deforestation without afforestation should be avoided in order to prevent our planet from experiencing global warming, when forest trees are cut down it is very essential to plant new tree to replace the former ones as this can help mitigate against global warming through the process of CO2 removal from the atmosphere caused by photosynthesis, carbon-dioxide can be converted to starch which is stored in plant and returned back to the atmosphere through the carbon cycle.
Agricultural activities like burning of biomass should be avoided in order to reduce emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere which might contribute to global warming. Dumping of poultry and livestock manures into the water body like tanks should be discouraged in order to avoid anaerobic digestion of deposited waste which can cause the release of greenhouse gases. Activities like crop rotation, reduced tillage, planting of cover crops will help to trap excess carbon emission from other industries, thus mitigating against global warming as the captured carbon is converted into plant material and organic matter thus improving the quality of soil and enhancing the fertile nature of the soil.

Global warming is one of the major problems facing the world presently, caused as a result of human activities. All global populations will be affected but the vulnerability differs among countries. Underdeveloped and developing countries are more vulnerable to global warming than developed countries. However, humans are the creator of this problem and only human can provide a solution to it, therefore adhering to the few recommendations provided in this article will enables to mitigate against global warming as one of the threat humanity is likely to face in the future.

©Tajudeen Yusuf Amuda.
Voice of the pen....

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