Integrated Knowledge-Based Analyses of Socio-Economic Issues

Report Catalogue Data

  Report Class   General Public Report
  Analysis Type   Situation Analysis
  Issue Category   Environmental Analysis
  Publish Date   05_14_2008
  Last Update   05_22_2008
  Reference Code   GPR-SA.EA.GWG-20080514-GGI
Global Warming & Greenhouse Gases
Greenhouse Gases & Global Warming, and Impact

Global warming is deemed to occur when there is measurable continual gradual increase of the temperature of the global planet Earth. Over the years, it is has been determined that the temperature of the Earth, in fact, has been rising. This determination has been made by several different scientists; alarms had been raised by each of these scientists individually as well. However, the alarms were not taken seriously until former VP [USA] Albert Gore joined the fray and even won the Noble Peace price for his advocacy for social responsibility.

The cause of the global warming has also been determined as being the effect  of greenhouse gases, which are CO2, methane and water vapor, in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases are so termed because they function as it were the whole earth is a greenhouse. However, to appreciate this impact, an understanding of the greenhouses gases effect on global warming is necessary. The greenhouse effect is a natural process that keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life. When sunlight [stream of solar photons] enters the earth's atmosphere, some of it turns into heat energy as a result of the interaction with the atmospheric matters. This heat is then dispersed within  the surrounding air, as well as absorbed by the water and land which in turn makes the surface of the planet warm. As the earth gets warmer, it convects some of the heat back into space, however, as this heat tries to escape the atmosphere, some of it is absorbed by the greenhouse gases. So instead of escaping the atmosphere, the heat is reradiated back to earth, warming the earth's surface. Being the  natural process that keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life, the greenhouse effect is supported naturally through the generation of  greenhouse gases in an eco-system that remains in a balance.

However, with technological advances, human beings now generate such massive quantities of the greenhouses gases. The Global Warming Theory maintains that human greenhouse gas emissions are so large, as to have caused an imbalance in the processing of the greenhouses gases in the ecosystem, that they are amplifying the natural greenhouse effect, causing abnormal quantities of heat to be trapped in our atmosphere and consequentially warming the planet beyond acceptable levels.

Man has generated this imbalance by several means but the most prominent contributor is the carbon dioxide gas that is produced as byproduct of the activities of man. The primary means by which human beings have generated the carbon dioxide is through the combustion of fuel, mostly the fossil fuels, which are Coal, Crude Oil and Natural Gas. Ordinarily in an ecosystem in balance, these fossil fuels or materials are several feet deep in the earth and so do not readily get combustion. However, with technological advances human beings routinely combust large quantities of these fuels to produce energy support myriads of needs to be met.

In all cases of the combustion of the fossil fuel, however, the products are carbon dioxide and water in the ideal case, otherwise some Carbon Monoxide and Methane - the main component of Natural gas - are also produced. All these being part of the greenhouse gas collection creates the same effect.

However, while the greatest quantity of Carbon dioxide gas is produced from the combustion of fuel, most of the methane that becomes part of the environmental greenhouse gas does come from the the combustion of fuel. Rather the source of the methane is the flaring of gases [or free atmospheric combustion] that occurs in and around crude-oil well. Chemical reaction mechanism studies have shown that most reactions involving polyatomic substances such as hydrocarbons, which is crude oil in this case, occur through complex reaction networks. Such reactions generally have to be tightly controlled to reach state of complete combustion; naturally it stands to reason that for a free atmospheric combustion as is the case with gas-flaring, the natural gas and hence the methane does not undergo complete combustion. Most of the reaction residual methane therefore plausibly becomes part of the atmospheric greenhouse gas.

Primary Impact of Global Warming
Several consequences of the global warming have also been documented over the past many years. Some of these consequences, among others, appearing only as natural disasters to the pedestrian, have been rising sea level, melting of ice caps of mountain tops, melting of the ice caps at the Polar Arctics.

Clearly the rising of the sea level is causing the submergence of small island communities all over the planet earth, although most of the inhabitants

have been thinking that their lands were simply being eroded away.

Ecological disasters are also occurring while others are yet to occur but will definitely occur unless some measures are taken to avert the prospects by mitigating, though preferably remedying, the evolving global warming impact. Polar bears stand to become endangered species as will the Penguins and other Polar animals.

Besides, these primary impacts, that have been delineated, has have attendant derivative impacts that are just as critical to attend to as the primary.


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