Personal Strategies

Although action by national governments and global alliances will be necessary to make the fundamental economic and other changes needed to adapt to temperature increases and shift away from fossil fuels, individuals can also play a role. They can try to reduce their own personal carbon production, called their carbon footprint, and make plans to live with warmer temperatures and other expected climate changes. Global warming is already starting, and there's going to be more of it. I think...

Economic Concerns

One of the biggest unknowns about global warming, in fact, is what effect it will have on the world economy. Mitigating greenhouse emissions, many people fear, will add to the normal costs of doing business and slow the economies of many nations around the world. In addition, countries that are hit with the results of rising temperatures such as agricultural declines, food and water shortages, rising rates of disease, or disasters caused by floods, fires, or droughts will face other significant...

Sustainable Living

For all countries, the key to adapting to climate change may be implementing sustainable development a term defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.48 Long before today's concerns about global warming, advocates for sustainable development argued that human activities were exploiting environmental treasures and ecosystems at an unsustainable...

Unequal Pain

Achieving timely adaptation to climate change, however, may be the most difficult for poorer countries. Ironically, although developing countries contribute the least to global warming, they are expected to face the biggest global warming problems with the fewest financial and technical resources for combating these problems. While people in the United States and other industrialized nations will be affected by global warming in many ways, developing countries tend to be located in less...

Escalating Allergens and Asthma

Although global warming may help some crops and beneficial plants to grow, it also could spur the growth of harmful plants, such as those that produce allergic reactions in many people. Global warming is expected to produce higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and warmer temperatures. In addition, this warming will cause spring to arrive earlier in many locations, leading to a longer growing period. All these conditions, researchers say, are expected to cause common plants to...

Adapting to Global Warming

For many years, global warming experts refused to embrace adaptation strategies, fearing that a discussion about adapting to global warming would give governments an excuse for not taking action to mitigate climate change. Today, most experts continue to stress that strong and immediate intervention is needed to protect future generations from global warming, but they accept that humans also must begin to prepare for the consequences of the higher temperatures that now seem certain to occur in...

Preparing for a Warmer Future

Although much of the focus to date has been on mitigation of global warming that is, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions even immediate emissions cuts will not completely stop global warming in the near future. As a result, many climate experts and policy makers are beginning to think about a complementary strategy of adaptation actions that individuals, businesses, and governments can take to live with the changes to the environment and economy that global warming is expected to cause...

The Future for Kyotos International Cap and Trade system

So far, the Kyoto Protocol an international agreement negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and ratified by 172 countries is the main global response to climate change. The treaty sought to limit the greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized countries by 5.2 percent by the year 2012. Under Kyoto, each country was assigned a mandatory goal for emission cuts, with some countries facing much higher goals than others. Countries could take direct actions to cut their own emissions, or...

Better to Be Prepared for Changes

Because the risks of global warming to society and ecosystems could prove to be significant, it is prudent now to develop and implement strategies that address the risks, . . . including putting policies in place that start us on a path to reduce emissions. ExxonMobil, a leading oil corporation. Quoted in Christian Science Monitor, Key Players React to the IPCC Global Warming Report, February 8, 2007. However, experts say that technology to foster efficiency, produce renewable energy, and help...

Energy Efficiency

Improving energy efficiency could also help to reduce greenhouse emissions. In fact, according to the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, The cheapest and fastest way to cut global warming pollution is to make things that use electricity like appliances, industrial equipment and buildings more energy-efficient.37 Major home appliances such as refrigerators, clothes washers, and dishwashers account for a large portion of people's monthly utility bills, and replacing them with...

Clean Coal and Nuclear Technologies

Because renewable technologies need further development, some experts argue that currently abundant fuel sources, such as coal and nuclear energy, may have to be relied on until better energy sources are available. The United States, for example, already uses coal to produce much of its electricity, and it has enough coal to last another 250 years. President Bush has proposed that more coal plants be built to reduce the country's reliance on foreign oil, but the problem is that coal is a fossil...

Energy from the Oceans

The world's oceans may provide another viable source of renewable energy. Researchers have long been studying how to exploit the energy from ocean waves, tides, and ocean-based winds, which tend to be stronger than winds on land. Some experts predict that these ocean resources may eventually overtake solar energy as the most economical clean energy source. Ocean wind power is the most developed of these ocean energy technologies, and some countries are already investing in offshore wind...

Transportation Technologies

Several transportation technologies may also help to reduce carbon emissions. Of these, hydrogen fuel is probably the most attractive because it can be stored and used like gasoline. Hydrogen can be easily produced from water by separating hydrogen from oxygen, but this requires energy, either from fossil fuels or renewable sources. Thus, hydrogen is only as emission-free as the energy that is used to produce it. Other obstacles to hydrogen gas are that it must be compressed or liquefied in...

Warming Is Here How Much Depends on Us

This new 2007 IPCC report makes it clear that global warming is here now, and we must take swift and effective action to stave off the most severe consequences. . . . At this point, some warming is unavoidable, but there is a world of difference between one degree and seven degrees. Dan Lashof, environmentalist and science director at the Climate Center, a project of the National Resource Defense Council, an environmental group. Quoted in Environment News Service, Global Warming Shock Wave...

The Role for Renewable Energy

The ideal solution to global warming would be a technological one that allows the world to switch quickly from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, and geo-thermal, which emit zero or low levels of carbon dioxide. Each of these sources, however, has its limitations. According to many experts, wind power is the most promising source of clean energy. Turbines capture the energy of the wind using propeller-like blades positioned on 100-foot-high towers, and the...

Start Finding Solutions

The great party of the twentieth century is coming to an end, and unless we now start preparing our survival kit we will soon be just another species eking out an existence in the few remaining habitable regions on Earth . James Lovelock, scientist, author, and environmentalist. James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia. New York Perseus, 2006, p. xiv. According to climate experts, however, it is still possible for humans to curb the most dire effects of global warming. The 2007 IPCC report, for...

US Climate Change Initiatives

In the United States, the federal response to global warming has been slow. The lack of federal efforts, however, has inspired states and localities to take action. Almost half of all states, for example, have created funds to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy, and twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have mandated that electrical utility companies generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Twenty-nine states also have adopted climate...

The Need for Immediate Action

Reducing emissions is difficult because the world is very addicted to fossil fuels. Oil, natural gas, and coal provide the energy that heats (and cools) our homes and powers our cars and airplanes. Fossil fuels also provide the electricity essential to maintaining our modern lifestyles, which are dependent on computers, telephones, televisions, and numerous other machines and appliances. The world economy, too, requires cheap fossil fuels to manufacture a multitude of products, to grow food,...

Solutions for Global Warming

If, as most scientists believe, human carbon emissions are a major cause of rising global temperatures, then only human action to reduce those emissions will be effective in solving the problem. Many people hope that technology and new renewable energy sources will provide an easy solution, but scientists and energy experts are not confident that this can occur quickly enough. Instead, most experts think that immediate caps on human carbon emissions are also necessary to prevent a future global...

Resource Wars

Perhaps the worst possible impact of global warming, however, would be military conflicts that could break out as nations compete for dwindling water, food, energy, and other resources. Many military experts, in fact, see the climate crisis as a threat multiplier that will intensify global political instability by creating pressures such as water shortages, food insecurity, disease, and flooding on some of the world's most fragile governments. According to a U.S. Department of Defense report in...

Threat Bigger than Terrorism

Current preoccupation is with terrorism, but in the long term climate change will outweigh terrorism as an issue for the international community. . . . Climate change is going to make some very fundamental changes to human existence on the planet. David Anderson, a former Canadian environment minister. Quoted in CNN.com, Official Global Warming Bigger Threat than Terrorism, February 6, 2004. reut index.html. Since tropical weather is expected to expand as temperatures rise, another health...

Decline in Winter Sports

For many locations on the planet, global warming may mark the end of winter sports, tourism, and recreation. Glaciers are already disappearing throughout the Alps, and resorts throughout Europe and the United States are worried about their future. There are good reasons for their concerns, because scientists have predicted that warmer temperatures and related climate changes could mean the end of reliable snow at resorts situated below altitudes of about 5,000 feet (1,500m) by the year 2050....

Natural Climate Changes

Climate scientists have known since the eighteenth century that Earth's climate can change dramatically due to natural causes. In fact, evidence from ice cores extracted from the Arctic and Antarctic regions show that planetary temperatures have varied by more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit 11.2 degrees Celsius during the last 350,000 years. Long periods of lower temperatures have resulted in prolonged ice ages that lasted tens of thousands of years. Approximately every 100,000 years, these cold...