The temperature on the earth’s surface has increased by about 0.5 degrees Celsius over the past four decades, with the increase being 0.75 degrees Celsius in the last decade. Many of these rises can be directly attributed to human activities, with greenhouse gas pollution being the most important contributor (which may include oxides of carbon and nitrogen and methane). As a topic, global warming, also known as climate change, causes sharp divides among people, with some claiming, backed up by empirical data, that the phenomenon is true and poses a global problem, while others are suspicious of its presence, claiming that in any case, it is not a world issue. This essay proves that global warming is a world issue, with the foregoing conviction that it is a real phenomenon by outlining possible refutations and the arguments that skeptics advance and then rebuffing them.
Why Global Warming is a World Issue
Much evidence points to the fact that global warming is a worldwide phenomenon, which calls for input of all people. For instance, supprting of the fact that climate change and global warming are global phenomena, D’Odorico et al. make a case to the effect that deserts all over the world are expanding, with the biggest expansion being witnessed in the landmass between the tropics, in South America and in Africa and even as far as in Australia(327-331). Huang et al. while reinforcing this point note that over time, water will become more scarce as deserts spread across the globe and that land will be degraded as a result of the gradual spread of aridity and the attendant water scarcity (167). Such water scarcity, and even soil degradation, can already be felt in the states of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and even Colorado. The frequency of these occurrences alone acts as a proof that global warming and climate change are a worldwide challenges that affect the entire human race.
Rising sea levels is another proof that global warming does not only exist, but is an important issue. In the last two and a half decades alone, Watson et al. observe that the sea levels have risen by an average of between 2.5 millimeters and 3.0 millimeters (566). Many experts cite that the sea levels could rise by as much as between half a meter and one meter over the course of this century. The rise in sea levels has already led to, and is going to escalate, flooding of coastal cities as the earth’s temperature continues to rise due to the influence of human activities. Such flooding has affected many parts of the world including the tropics, from as far west as the cities on the western seaboard of South America to those as far east as those on the South China Sea. Scientists forecast widespread flooding of cities on coasts across the world if global warming is not controlled.
Another visible consequence of the phenomenon of global warming is the melting of the polar ice caps. Hutt notes that the continued combustion of fossil fuels and subsequent release of carbon into the atmosphere continues to threaten the existence of polar ice caps. Warning that a temperature rise beyond 2 °C would have the potential to melt all the ice caps in the Antarctica, Winkelmann, Levermann, Ridgwell and Caldeira point out that the ice caps on many mountain ranges would also be melted and in the process lead to more severe instances of avalanches and even landslides (589). Such widespread consequences should serve to indicate the global nature of the problem of climate change. A complete melting of the polar ice caps would lead to a 58 meter rise in the average level of the seas and oceans; a further indicator to the global nature of the phenomenon.
Changes in weather patterns is another result of the sustained increase in the temperature of the earth’s surface. Around the world, weather becomes extreme, with more instances of heavy rainfall in the tropics as well as severer droughts. Elsewhere, outside the tropics, other weather events such as hurricanes and typhoons are not only more frequent than they used to be, but are also stronger and more powerful hence comparatively more destructive. Such weather events as Hurricanes Irma, Maria, Katrina and Harvey as well as many other storms can be directly linked to the global climate change as can be the heat waves in the summer and heavier snowfalls in the winter. Drawing from the assertions of Wheeler and Von Braun, while different zones of the world might have different weather events in reaction to the climate change that has engulfed the world, their occurrence proves the global nature of the phenomenon (509-511).
Many individuals still harbor skepticism over the phenomenon of global warming and climate change, claiming that the phenomenon is either a fabrication, or does not have as widespread effects as is being claimed. Hence, skeptics claim that climate has changed before and that the change is not yet visible thus cannot be global. While these sentiments presently hold true, the effects of climate change are gradual rather than drastic, and take time to be manifested. However, many events currently happening, such as the sever heat waves and snowfall, increased flooding, expansion of deserts and biting drought, indicate to the reality and destructive nature of the phenomenon.
Others in disputing the worldwide nature of climate change and its effects may advance the argument that no cities on coasts in the world were submerged. True as that may be, many coastal cities across the world have experienced flooding to a greater degree than before, a fact that can be traced back to global warming and the subsequent rise in the sea levels. As polar ice caps continue to melt, it is believed, such cities will increasingly experience flooding and a substantial part of them will be engulfed in ocean waters. Such persons may also advocate the view that climate sensitivity is low and is not as widespread as claimed. Although such premise is partially true, over time, the effects of climate augment up and result in massive effects across the world, with this fact being the prediction of the current erratic weather that is affecting many nations.
The evidence that climate change is not only real but affects the entire world exists. While critics may claim that the effects are not as widespread as the people of the world were made to believe, empirical evidence points to the actual global nature of the effects of climate change. Essentially, despite the disputes, climate change is not only real but also global in terms of its implications and is a major world issue.
D’Odorico, Paolo, et al. “Global Desertification: Drivers and Feedbacks.” Advances in Water Resources 51 (2013): 326-344.
Huang, Jianping, et al. “Accelerated Dry land Expansion under Climate Change.” Nature Climate Change 6.2 (2016): 166-171.
Hutt, Rosamond. “What are the 10 Biggest Global Challenges?” World Economic Forum, Jan 21 2016. [Online] Accessed November 30, 2017 from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/what-are-the-10-biggest-global-challenges/
Watson, S. Christopher et al. “Unabated Global Mean Sea-level Rise over the Satellite Altimeter Era”. Nature Climate Change, 5 (2015): 565–568.
Wheeler, Tim, and Joachim Von Braun. “Climate Change Impacts on Global Food Security.” Science 341.6145 (2013): 508-513.
Winkelmann, Ricarda, Anders Levermann, Andy Ridgwell and Ken Caldeira. “Combustion of Available Fossil Fuel Resources Sufficient To Eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet.” Science Advances, 1.8 (2015): e589.