Global warming and climate change have brought to attention the capacity of modern human civilization to impact the environment on a broader scale. Unfortunately, critics of climate change have expressed doubt whether climate change is really upon us. However, the awareness that the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide can destroy life on Earth has reinforced the concern of an imminent biosphere crisis. In the wake of such controversial debates, this paper argues that global warming is a real phenomenon and that without appropriate intervention measures, it threatens the survival of all life forms on earth.
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The concept of global warming has become a controversial issue in the last few decades. On the one hand, there those who believe climate change is real, and on the other hand, those who believe it is not. The latter represent people who are skeptical about global warming. Overall, climate skepticism refers to the doubt by some individuals, whether climate change is happening (Veldman, 2019). Yet, to argue that climate skepticism only exists among the public would be false given the increasing numbers of researchers pointing to the possibility that the issue has been overstated.
One such report was presented by Simon Albert, who argues that global warming and has been blown out of proportion by the media. Albert bases his position on the findings of his study on sea-level rise. In the report, Albert studied several reef islands in the Solomon Islands with a specific focus on their shapeshifting trends from 1947 to 2014. According to his observations, six islands have undergone massive erosion while five wholly washed away (Albert et al. 2016). According to the researcher, sea-level rise is as a result of rising trade winds that push water up toward the western Pacific. Further, he claims that although the trade winds are natural, atmospheric warming has caused their recent intensity.
Perceptions due to climate change skepticisms such as Albert’s can be explained using the theory of cognitive dissonance. Mainly, the theory suggests that when individuals encounter situations that occasion psychological discomfort as in those that negate their current convictions, the discomfort triggers them to resolve the dissonance (Cooper, 2013). Thus, in Albert’s case, he adjusts the contradicting dissonance, which enables him to dispute the legitimacy of climate change evidence by reducing or not acknowledging its existence.
As such, climate change skepticisms like the one presented above explain a culture that humans have developed whereby, they distance themselves from taking responsibility for the consequences of their actions. More specifically, it helps humans to retain their beliefs about nature, which subsequently allows them to continue with their destructive activities on the environment. Indeed, the results are increasingly becoming apparent in various regions. The average surface temperature of the planet has risen to its highest levels since the turn of the century (NASA, 2019). Broadly, this can be attributed to increased carbon dioxide and other industrial effluents due to human activities.
In Europe, for instance, several cities are expected to break all-time temperature records. Some cities in Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany are already setting new temperature records (Henley, 2019). Increasing global temperatures are not only affecting cities but also oceans, ice sheets, and sea level. Much of the heat has been absorbed by the oceans, with some recording increased warming of more than 0.4 degrees. Also, ice sheets in the Greenland and Antarctic are increasingly losing their mass due to high temperatures. The situation is even worse in Antarctica, where the rate of ice mass loss is triple that of the previous decade (NASA, 2019).
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Apart from the global sea-level rise, NASA (2019) has also revealed more evidence showing the impacts of glowing warming. For instance, retreating glaciers and disappearing snowcaps from around the globe including in the Himalayas, Alps, Alaska, Rockies, Andes, and Africa, is a result of global warming. The same can be said about the situation in the Northern Hemisphere, which is experiencing reduced spring snow cover due to increased temperatures. Additionally, NASA alludes that the degree and thickness of ice in the Arctic sea have reduced rapidly in the last few years. They have also discovered evidence of a gradual increase in the acidity of surface ocean waters. This has been associated with the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that is subsequently absorbed into the oceans.
In general, the ambiguity of the issues surrounding global warming among them sea level rise may explain the lack of a common consensus on the matter. In particular, facts and evidence presented by scientists on the existence of global warming in specific concepts such as the greenhouse effect are not well understood by the public. As a result of the chasm between the research community and the general population, climate skepticism continues to persist, thus hindering concerted efforts to increase human awareness on the impacts of global warming.
Global warming is happening, given the overwhelming evidence of the greenhouse effect. If issues like sea-level rise, which scientific evidence has associated with increasing emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon monoxide cannot convince people that the planet is declining, then nothing will. Ultimately, the more humans continue to devastate the environment, the more they limit its ability to support life systems on earth. Therefore, to avert the looming disaster due to global warming, humans must acknowledge its existence and change their behaviors and practices.
- Albert, S., Leon, J. X., Grinham, A. R., Church, J. A., Gibbes, B. R., & Woodroffe, C. D. (2016). Interactions between sea-level rise and wave exposure on reef island dynamics in the Solomon Islands. Environmental Research Letters, 11(5), 054011.
- Cooper, J. (2013). Cognitive dissonance: Fifty years of a classic theory. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
- Veldman, R. G. (2019). The Gospel of Climate Skepticism: Why Evangelical Christians Oppose Action on Climate Change. Univ of California Press.
- NASA. (2019). Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know? Retrieved 29 December 2019, from https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
- Henley, J. (2019). Climate crisis blamed as temperature records broken in three nations. Retrieved 29 December 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/24/summers-second-heatwave-set-to-break-records-across-europe
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