Shraddha. Y. Shende
When we hear the word global warming, the first thought that hits us is an increase in temperature. Global warming is the phenomenon of gradual increase in the overall temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. The tremendous rise in temperature continues to disturb our lifestyle. But to balance the environment and sustain life, there must be a certain threshold of the degree of temperature. This is naturally taken care of by the atmosphere. Also, the atmosphere contains various gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (NO), etc., they act as a blanket to trap the incoming solar radiation and prevent it from escaping back into space. Carbon dioxide, being a heavier gas is the major contributor to global warming, as it traps a large number of heatwaves into the atmosphere. This process is termed as the greenhouse effect and the gases trapping the radiations are termed as greenhouse gases.
The major causes of global warming are industrialization and urbanization. Many industries use fossil fuels for their production which emit a huge amount of pollutants. As the volume of these pollutants (gases) in the atmosphere increase, correspondingly temperature also increases. More the volume of gases more is their tendency to trap the heat waves. Also, other natural causes for temperature increase include volcanic eruptions, forest fires, etc. These natural calamities tend to produce heat waves that are trapped by the gases giving rise to temperature. Also, many individual activities contribute to global warming. The term carbon footprint connects us with this cause.
The quantity of carbon dioxide released into the environment as a result of our daily activities is termed as a carbon footprint. Activities such as - operating mobile phones, watching television, heating food in a microwave, or even driving a car contribute to a carbon footprint. To carry out these functions, fossil fuels are burnt to produce a certain amount of electricity. Even many industrialists are adopting renewable sources of energy such as wind energy, solar energy, hydrothermal energy, etc., for their production, but the end consumers who are being benefited should consume them efficiently. The carbon footprint also relates to the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of a product. LCA is an analysis technique to assess environmental impacts. It helps us to analyze the number of resources consumed at each step of a product or service supply chain.
Carbon dioxide levels have consistently increased from 373 ppm to above 400 ppm within the last few decades, noting the safe level as 300 ppm. Here, ppm is an abbreviation for parts per million. It is the number of units of mass of contaminants per million units of the total mass. Also known as milligrams per liter (mg/l). This increased level has affected wildlife, resulted in the melting of glaciers, and threatened the lives of polar bears. Due to the temperature rise, the pH of seawater has decreased, forming carbonic acid, resulting in acidification. The water being acidic has become unfavorable for coral reefs and sea turtles to survive. Generally, the pH of seawater should be 8.6 for aquatic life to thrive.
Global warming tends to warm the oceans resulting in stronger and more barbaric floods on one hand while producing extreme heatwave and devastating droughts on the other hand. These catastrophes could be subdued if necessary actions are taken. Restrictions should be initiated to tighten greenhouse gas emissions, stricter policies should be implemented and efforts should be made to practice LCA at the national and local levels. Industries should get carbon footprint certified which could help them to keep track of their carbon emissions. Industries should also choose greener infrastructure and equipment for their production.
The government should introduce schemes against industries for combating greenhouse gases. There must a subject on ‘Environment Studies’ in every school and college where students should be assigned with particular projects. Apart from this, a weekly session in every company should be enforced where awareness among employees must be created. Afforestation is the simple and most significant method in overcoming global warming. Using energy-efficient appliances could help to reduce the carbon footprint. Initiatives should be taken to aware people to adopt eco-friendly products and plant trees in surrounding areas as one gram of carbon dioxide is absorbed by one meter square of the plant area.