GLOBAL WARMING

Global warming is a phenomenon where the earth’s average temperature rises due to increased amounts of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and ozone trap the incoming radiation from the sun. This effect creates a natural “blanket” which prevents the heat from escaping back into the atmosphere. This effect is called a greenhouse effect.

Contrary to popular belief, greenhouse gases are not inherently bad. In fact, the greenhouse effect is quite important for life on earth. Without this effect, the sun’s radiation would be reflected back into the atmosphere, freezing the surface and making life impossible. However, when greenhouse gasses in excess amounts get trapped, serious repercussions begin to appear. The polar ice caps begin to melt, leading to the rise in sea levels. Furthermore, the greenhouse effect is accelerated when polar ice caps and sea ice melts. This is due to the fact the ice reflects 50% to 70% of the sun’s rays back into space; but without ice, the solar radiation gets absorbed. Seawater reflects only 6% of the sun’s radiation back into space. What’s more frightening is the fact that the poles contain large amounts of carbon dioxide trapped within the ice. If this ice melts, it will significantly contribute to global warming.

A related scenario when this phenomenon goes out of control is the runaway-greenhouse effect. This scenario is essentially similar to an apocalypse, but it is all too real. Though this has never happened in the earth’s entire history, it is speculated to have occurred on Venus. Millions of years ago, Venus was thought to have an atmosphere similar to the Earth’s. But due to the runaway greenhouse effect, surface temperatures around the planet began rising.

If this occurs on earth, the runaway greenhouse effect will lead to many unpleasant scenarios – temperatures will rise hot enough for oceans to evaporate. Once the oceans evaporate, the rocks will start to sublimate under the heat. To prevent such a scenario, proper measures have to be taken to stop climate change.