Global warming is one of the most popular topics of news programs and worldwide media. The basic assertion of global warming is that the surface of the earth is increasing in temperature. That assertion also implies that human industrial activities are responsible for this temperature increase.
A consensus of worldwide scientists recently issued a statement that global warming is real and that it needs to be controlled. What exactly is global warming, and how did it get to the extent that is seen today?
Global warming is due to the greenhouse effect. A greenhouse easily lets sunlight in to warm the interior. However, the heat that is generated by the sunlight has a harder time getting out, raising the temperature inside the greenhouse.
Carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane are greenhouse gases that trap heat inside the atmosphere, like the glass of a greenhouse. These are naturally occurring gases that are beneficial to the earth. However, global warming asserts that humanity has increased the amounts of greenhouse gases and caused the recent worldwide temperature increase.
Scientists claim that humanity's massive burning of fossil fuels is mainly responsible for the global warming increase. Fossil fuels include oil, gas, coal, and natural gas. Carbon dioxide and water vapor, among other gases, are generated when these fossil fuels are burned.
Two of the main greenhouse gas emitters are coal fired power plants and automobile exhaust. Every industrialized economy in the world is based on fossil fuel usage, so it is not possible to decrease global warming by simply stopping the use of oil, coal, and gasoline.
Alternatives to fossil fuels include solar, wind, hybrids, and even nuclear energy. These alternative energy sources emit little or no greenhouse gases. Therefore, widespread adoption of these energy sources should help reduce or slow global warming. However, some of these technologies are not mature or ready for widespread distribution. Many countries that stopped or slowed their nuclear energy programs decades ago are reviving them now.
It is pretty obvious that global warming is a real phenomenon. Polar ice is melting, hurricanes are increasing in strength and intensity, and some local climates are even changing. There may be even more sinister effects of global warming waiting to be discovered.
Even those that don't believe in global warming can recognize that migrating to alternative fuels and renewable energy sources will help the planet in the long term. The time to start is now, before those more destructive effects make themselves known.