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Global Air Pollution and Global Climate Change, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

We know that the Earth’s climate has changed many times throughout its existence. There have been both ice ages and long periods of warmth. Many natural factors, such as volcanic eruptions, energy absorbed from the sun, and changes in the Earth’s orbit have long had an influence on the Earth’s climate and contributed to climate change. The Industrial Revolution ushered in a new era of human activities that have had a continuing effect on the Earth’s environment and climate through a direct change in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. Some examples of these activities include the use of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil and deforestation. Together, these activities create gases that gather in the atmosphere and prevent heat from exiting into space, instead keeping it in and increasing the Earth’s climate. (EPA, 2010) Though climate change has always been a part of the Earth’s cycle, human activities have dramatically affected the natural climate cycle in such a way that this climate change will soon significantly affect daily human life.

How is global change likely to affect the human population? Scientists have created models to predict how these trapped gases, or greenhouse gases, will affect the Earth and its inhabitants. Results predict that an increase in gases will raise the average temperature from a current temperature level of 3.2 to 7.2єF by the end of the century. (EPA, 2010) The end of the century is in about 90 years. It may sound like a long time away, but this change is gradual, not sudden. Everything will not suddenly be changed in 90 years; it is changing now. While talk about concentrated greenhouse gases and increased surface temperature may sound vague, there are many predicted changes in our world that will affect daily lives. An article from Science News predicts that as the temperatures change throughout the world, many different species will relocate, in search of climates that suit them. (ScienceNews, 2002) A comprehensive report released in 2009 by the United States Global Change Research Program predicts that crop and livestock production will be stressed by an increase in heat, pests, disease, weather extremes and water availability. Stress concerning water will come in the form of drought, floods and water quality. (USGCRP, 2009) Waterborne diseases will negatively impact human health, as will heat related illness, increasingly poor air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by an increased insect population. Also, rising sea-levels and an increase in coastal storms will cause erosion and flooding, directly impacting the energy and transportation industries of coastal regions, such as Alaska, California, the Hawaiian Islands, Japan, and many others. (USGCRP, 2009) 

The effects of global air pollution and global climate change on the environment and the human population are real, are current, and need to be addressed now. Local, state, and federal governments can lead the way to effective climate control by establishing policies and programs that will promote the use and research of climate technology and science. (EPA, 2010) Programs can be set up to research, promote, and actively reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions produced. Specific examples of areas that can be enforced by government are the reduction in use of fossil fuels, such as burning coal and oil, research to improve energy efficiency, research for alternative energy sources, recovery of methane gases and reduced emission. (EPA, 2010) The government can use its authority to create and enforce laws for commercial and industrial companies requiring the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases and for the adoption of alternative energy sources. Funding incentives could be created for commercial and industrial companies that voluntarily surpass the required regulations. Some programs already in existence in the United States include The Clean Energy-Environment State Partnership Program, Climate Leaders, the SmartWay Transport Partnership, Methane Voluntary Programs, WasteWise, Climate VISION Partnership, and a voluntary greenhouse gas reporting program. International programs led by the United States include the Methane to Markets Partnership. Currently, however, all of these programs listed are voluntary. (EPA, 2010) 

If local, state, and federal governments took global climate change seriously and serious efforts were implemented to curb greenhouse gases, what impact would be seen? A serious effort to curb the production of greenhouse gases would have a substantial impact on human lives in the not so far future. Joseph J. Romm addressed this subject in his book, Hell and High Water: Global Warming – The Solution and The Politics – And What We Should So, as did Al Gore in his 2006 book, An Inconvenient Truth : The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It. (California Academy of Sciences, 2010) Putting forth a serious effort to curb greenhouse gases would require major reduction of emissions. This means a change in energy consumption. More public transportation, such as subways and trains, would need to be built in suburban and rural areas of the country. A greater number of buses would need to be implemented. Hybrid and fully electrical vehicles would have to almost totally replace vehicles that run solely on unleaded and diesel gasoline. This would mean a change in the production lines at vehicle factories, as far as the equipment required to build a vehicle as well as the skills employees would be required to possess. Blue collar employees would have to attain education past a high school diploma in order to remain competitive in the job market. The face of college campuses would change as more adults returned to school in search of the skills that would be needed to build electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as the skills required to operate and maintain alternative sources of energy. Commercial and industrial companies would have to cease use of fossil fuel energy, so giant windmills would dot the landscape and solar panels would decorate the buildings. These are just a few of the social impacts that would be seen from serious effort by local, state, and federal governments to curb greenhouse gases. The effort is one that requires full cooperation. 

What can individuals do to lower the emissions of greenhouse gases? There are many steps an individual can take to reduce greenhouse gases. Making a few changes in the home can make a sizeable difference in emissions. For example, conventional light bulbs can be replaced with ENERGY STAR light bulbs and home electronics and appliances purchased that have the ENERGY STAR label. (EPA, 2009) Perform regular vehicle tune ups and keep tires at the proper air level improve fuel efficiency. Use renewable fuels on all vehicles that have the option and walk, carpool, or ride a bike when the opportunity is there. Office papers, old electronic equipment, used printer cartridges and batteries from the workplace can all be recycled. (EPA, 2009) Education about reducing greenhouse gases in the classroom will encourage students to practice environmentally safe habits for life. Recycling of classroom papers, newspapers, beverage containers, used printer cartridges and batteries help to reduce emissions from schools. (EPA, 2009) One important step that can be made by everyone is to contact representatives in the local, state, and federal governments and let them know how important the issue of global air pollution and global climate change is to this nation’s citizens.

Global air pollution and global climate change is an issue that is real, that is happening now, and that will not go away unless serious changes are made. Global climate change has begun to affect the world all around us. There is time to slow and possibly stop the damage that concentrated greenhouse gases have caused, but only if action is taken now. Local, state, and federal governments along with individual citizens all working together, can have a major impact on preserving the water, vegetation, air, and many species of Earth. 

Works Cited

California Academy of Sciences. (2010). Academy Library Catalog. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from California Academy of Sciences: Research : http://libcat.calacademy.org/F/E3A362S8KQT22QN9NEHQXYSQAB183D4JK9V2KGILRUH6NJRXK8-25331?func=full-set-set&set_number=000178&set_entry=000004&format=999

EPA. (2009, October 14). Climate Change – What You Can Do. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/index.html

EPA. (2010, February 16). Climate Change: Basic Information. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basicinfo.html

ScienceNews. (2002). Climate Upsets: Big model predicts many new neighbors. Science News , Vol.161, #15, p.230.

USGCRP. (2009). Key Findings . Retrieved March 18, 2010, from United States Global Change Research Findings : http://globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/key-findings

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