The earth has a number of climatic systems that ensure the distribution of heat across the face of the earth. Global warming is the result of retention of heat by the earth’s atmosphere originally from the sun because of the presence of green house gases released through many natural and artificial processes.
Cunningham and Cunningham (2008) point out that “The greenhouse effect is a natural atmospheric process that is necessary for life as we know it”, and need not be a major concern so long as the fluctuations in the emission levels remain within safe levels.
Human activity has however titled the scale of emissions to levels currently considered by many scientists as untenable and human beings are the major culprits behind global warming. Cunningham and Cunningham (2008) warn that too high emissions “may cause harmful environmental change”.
The implications of global warming are dire, extremely diverse and far-reaching. All spheres of human existence seem tragically interlinked by the consequences that global warming threatens to unleash. Indeed, global warming threatens the very existence of human civilization, as we have known it.
Global warming threatens food security the world over. The changes it brings about in climate patterns affect growing seasons adversely, in some places causing too much rainfall, and in others prolonged drought.
It also has led to more difficult disease prevention and control as pests and parasites move to newer regions, which can support their life systems as the climate in their old habitats change. “Biologists report that many animals are breeding earlier or extending their range into new territory as the climate changes.” (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2008).
The residents of the island of Tuvalu have already announced plans to leave their homeland for higher ground, probably to New Zealand, as a direct result of rising sea levels, which they fear may sub merge their homeland in the coming years. Their story is illustrative of the effects that climate change will have on coastal cities all over the world due to rising sea levels caused by the melting of glaciers.
Climate change will create a new brand of refugees that Cunningham and Cunningham (2008) have referred to as “climate change refugees”, as people migrate to safer ground. The other effects climate change will have is; severe weather patterns characterized by frequent and stronger hurricanes, El Nino and La Nina phenomenon, severe heat waves and drought. Fresh water will become even scarcer and may be a serious cause of conflict in many societies.
The biodiversity of the earth depends on the air quality in the atmosphere for its successful propagation and as such, no cost is too high for air quality improvement. In fact, climate change has become an issue today that determines the survival of humankind. No single approach will be able to stem the tide of climate change.
However, it is cheaper to begin implementing mitigation measures now, as the same measures will cost more in the years to come. Failure to tackle the changes in air quality on time will result in consequences which will require vast sums of money to tackle and this in turn will stretch and severely impair the economic muscle of most countries especially the poorer countries.
If the basic interest of humanity is to survive and to do so with as many species as possible, then there exists sufficient justification for an all out effort to improve air quality in the atmosphere. One of the suggestions for a place to start is at policy level where Mendelsohn (2008) suggests that “climate policy should also include a compensation package for poor countries”.
Cunningham, M.A., & Cunningham, W.P. (2008). Principles of environmental science: Inquiry and applications (Custom 5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Mendelsohn, R. (2008). The policy implications of climate change impacts. In Zedillo, E. (Ed.). Global warming: Beyond Kyoto. Harrisonburg, Virginia: R.R. Donnelley.