As global warming increases in intensity, its effects are felt worldwide. While some geographical areas will be hit harder than others, and different areas will be affected in different ways, it is a global phenomenon and requires the effort of everyone on Earth to tackle and manage this growing problem—not only for us but also for our descendants.
While there are several factors that can contribute to global warming, such as natural changes in the Earth's inclination and revolution around the Sun, by far the biggest factor contributing to the global warming threat today is due to the emission of greenhouse gases—such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor, and nitrous oxide—added at alarming rates to the atmosphere by daily human activity. Every person on Earth has a "carbon footprint"— a measure of greenhouse gas contributed to the atmosphere on a daily basis. Some people's footprints are much higher than others; those who live in developed countries, such as the United States (which is the largest greenhouse gas emitter), emit much greater amounts than those in the undeveloped (unindustrialized) countries of the world. Various activities, such as agricultural and deforestation practices, also emit greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse Gases explores the very important role of greenhouse gases and their global impact on populations and ecosystems worldwide. Through gaining an understanding of the various sources of these gases, their interaction with the atmosphere, their effect on natural systems, and why controlling them is critical to the Earth's future climate, it can empower you—the reader—to take corrective action. One of the most critical aspects of the entire problem is public education. To date, there has been extensive research completed on global warming, and the consensus of the majority of the scientific community concurs that there is overwhelming evidence that global warming is happening right now and will continue to worsen if action is not taken immediately.
In order to make effective changes, the general population must first understand the issues and the consequences of their personal actions, and then be willing to make appropriate changes in their decisions and lifestyles. This volume will help you accomplish those goals.
Chapter 1 discusses the greenhouse effect and its role in global warming. You will learn about the various greenhouse gases—their similarities and differences—and why the concept of "global warming potential" is so important. It also discusses the role of ozone and another important newly discovered concept called "global dimming" and how it relates to global warming.
Next, chapter 2 discusses the process of carbon sequestration and why it is so important now and will become even more so in the future. It explores the concept of carbon sinks and sources and outlines the various types of carbon sequestration that are available. It also looks at how carbon emissions are modeled in the United States.
Chapter 3, explores the relationship of agriculture to greenhouse gases. A two-sided issue, you will learn how global warming affects agriculture as well as how agriculture responds to climate change. It also looks at how agriculture can be used as a tool to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by both sequestration and biofuel production. Finally, it addresses the issue of adequate food supply in a warming world.
Chapter 4 discusses how deforestation impacts the greenhouse gas level in the atmosphere. It looks at forests' role in climate change and their role as global carbon sinks. The real impacts of deforestation are explored and what that means for climate change and the future given the current rate of tropical rain forest deforestation.
Chapter 5 deals with the pertinent issues of anthropogenic (human) causes and effects toward global warming. It discusses the concept of carbon footprints and shows you how to calculate your own. It looks at land use change and how it can either promote or curb greenhouse gas emissions. It also profiles which cities are most at risk, the role of public lands, which cultural sites around the world are being threatened and destroyed because of global warming, and what significant economic impacts are being experienced.
Chapter 6 examines the fate of natural refuges and how global warming is impacting nature and wildlife now and how scientists expect it to impact it in the future. It looks at the timing of seasonal events, such as migration, breeding, and food cycles. It also looks at threatened and endangered species and why global warming is adding more to that list. Finally, it looks at the various refuges that are currently at risk, their roles, and laws in force designed to help wildlife in peril due to climate change.
Chapter 7 takes you around the world for a look at the effect that the already changing climate is having in various geographical regions. It first looks at Europe, Russia, and Asia; then it explores the plight of Africa and Oceania. Next, it looks at the polar regions, then the Americas. Finally, it gives a close look at the impacts in the various regions of the United States and what types of climate scenarios are expected during the next century.
Finally, chapter 8 presents mitigation and adaptation principles applicable to climate change. It explores carbon capture and storage and various practical mitigation and adaptation strategies that can help curb the emission of greenhouse gases and slow global warming.
This book will give you a firm basis for an understanding of greenhouse gases, the critical role they play in global warming, and how you can help make a difference in reducing them. The statistical information used within the book is the most currently available data. This volume will also empower you with the knowledge to enlighten others to enable them to reduce their carbon footprint as well. After all, we are all in this together.
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