Global Warming and Climate Change

I have equally spent my life in three different countries such as Russia, Mongolia and the U.S. Also, I have traveled to several different countries, and I am always curious about learning new cultures and meeting new people. When I was traveling around the world, most of the population in developed countries was worried about climate change and how to transform the infrastructure of their societies. On the other hand, people in developing countries were worried about how to live in a clean environment and decreasing air pollution. According to my own perspective, the only solution to solve this problem is to cut our habits, because quitting is clearly not an option. Quitting, in this case, is like mocking the very progress human beings have fought so hard to attain over the past three hundred years of their existence. I can remember what my professor said, “All of these problems about climate changing can be solved if we change all of our energy sources into renewable energy (Turner 2009). We must use our intelligence to curb effects of climate change.”  Since then I have started doing some research on how to solve the problems of climate change and global warming.

Since the first burnished twig was used to produce a flame, human beings have been stamping their carbon footprint on the world. Fire was helpful, and it sanitized our meals and kept the boogieman at bay. As we learned to control fire, life became increasingly easier, allowing us to grow exponentially as a species. Fossil fuel, originating from fossilized or dead plant matter, has been our primary source of energy since the dawn of time. Every living thing, as well as fossils, is made up of carbon-based chemistry. However, when carbon burns in the presence of oxygen, carbon dioxide is always the primary byproduct. Carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emission is the primary source of the global warming.

Imagine how carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, acts like a blanket or cloth. If you are cold, you wear more clothes to keep yourself warmer. So your body creates heat and does not go through your clothes; then this process makes you warm permanently. Thus, carbon dioxide blanket created above the surface helps to keep the heat near the surface of Earth (Jaccard 2005). The earth is naturally emitting infrared radiation, and, on the other hand, it reflects solar heat. Basically, all the heat and radiation stays above the surface in the presence of the greenhouse gas. This is the critical factor that causes global warming and climate change. In order to decrease greenhouse gas emission we must do certain changes into our lives and find alternative energy sources.

In the article, “A Realizable Renewable Energy Future,” Science Magazine journalist, John A. Turner, explores clean energy sources that may combat our use of fossil fuels (Turner 2009). Engines can now operate using hydrogen-fueled cells, emitting only water vapor as a byproduct. Wind, solar, and water-driven power plants can provide renewable energy with minimal pollutants. Even nuclear energy, despite its dark reputation, cannot be denied its place in providing cleaner energy, as well. Yet, Turner points out that there are many negative aspects to these clean technologies that cannot be disregarded (Turner 2009). If hydrogen fueled vehicles were to be utilized, our entire infrastructure would have to be remade to accommodate such vehicles. Even the production of hydrogen fuel requires vast amounts of energy. Does the good actually outweigh the bad? Renewable energy sources may sound enticing, but they are unreliable. Windmills remain still in calm conditions. Solar panels are not effective on cloudy days, coming to complete halts at night. Damming may alter entire ecosystems, and nuclear energy cannot be made without nuclear waste which also creates a question that “Is it better off investing in developing carbon dioxide sequestering technologies?”

Mark Jaccard, the author of “Sustainable Fossil Fuels: The Unusual Suspect in the Quest for Clean and Enduring Energy,” thinks that fossil fuels cannot be completely eliminated from the equation (Jaccard 2005). Fossil fuels are cheap, efficient, and much more abundant than the public realizes. Many people are led to believe that fossil fuel reserves are running on empty, but Jaccard points to geologic studies that estimate coal reserves to have at least eight hundred years left in quarries, and natural gas may be available for even longer than that. Available and plentiful, fossil fuels are also not as dirty as they used to be. Converted into clean forms of energy such as electricity, hydrogen, and cleaner burning synthetic fuels, these hybrids are capable of being put through gasification processes that capture the carbon emissions before they even have a chance to escape into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels have a lot to offer, and Jaccard maintains that continuing our present quality of life is impossible without them. This is why every alternative option must be explored. Changing the way we produce and consume energy is not a ten year deal, or a fifty year deal. It may take up to a hundred years before we can actually be a carbon-free society.

Regardless of the method, the truth of the matter is that the United States and the whole world need to be proactive in its search for methods of producing carbon-free energy. Turner suggested a gradual approach, one that still maintained our fossil fuel consumption, albeit with cleaner emissions that would allow green technologies to refine over time and become cheaper (Turner 2009). Both Turner and Jaccard realized that changing our ways is not an overnight matter and may take decades to make any reasonable progress. If too many changes occur too early, the entire infrastructure of the country could collapse. Yet if too little is done in the future, the habitability of the entire planet is at stake. The government’s participation is crucial in order to combat the effects of global warming. Policy change is the only way to get industries to change the way they consume energy (Jaccard 2005). Without government mandates, industries will ignore the water boiling around them until it is far too late.

Both Jaccard and Turner believe that any change in energy emissions must begin with an efficient implementation of policies from the government. Turner talked mightily about the multitude of available technologies, but did little more than mention that the government had a pivotal role in initiating change. Jaccard (2005) believes, “Shifting to a more sustainable energy path at the primary and secondary energy level will require profound technological change over the coming decades, and this in turn requires a substantial policy effort.” Jaccard is sure that the only way change can come about will be through extensive reshuffling of current energy policies (Jaccard 2005). If a common reader is to be convinced that a reduction in greenhouse emissions is possible, they must be given exact details on ways to do it. With all the focus greenhouse gas emissions have garnered, emissions policy has been largely ignored. The common reader already knows there is a problem at hand; they just need the government to initiate change.

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