The 19th as well as the 20th century have been the most prolific time periods in modern history as concerns science, technology and socio-economic development. Within these two centuries we witnessed the discovery of electricity, the invention of the engine which played a very important role in the maturity of the well-known industrial revolution. Through this revolution people began to live in a more decent and comfortable manner; new commodities were produced and entire new kinds of industry were developed. Although all these inventions, discoveries and scientific breakthroughs improved in an outstanding way our well-being, they also provided us with some troubles that scientists had never foreseen or even imagined. One of the major setbacks of this technological evolution is the change of the Worlds climate: the so-called Global Warming.
Global warming is a very strange phenomenon which consists in the increase of the Worlds average temperature. Scientists after very precise historical observations and measurements have reached the conclusion that the global average temperature has increased by about 0.5 degree centigrade over the past 100 years. The likelihood that this global warming is due primarily to natural variability is low. Scientists believe that this global warming trend is a direct consequence of the enhanced greenhouse effect. The notion of an “enhanced” greenhouse effect refers primarily to the incremental global warming caused by the rising concentrations of human-introduced greenhouse gases over and above the greenhouse effect caused by naturally occurring greenhouse gases. Although there exist large uncertainties, scientists suggest that the emissions of greenhouse gases could, by the end of the next century, lead to an increase in global temperatures of about 1 to 4 degree centigrade.
This global warming tendency can cause a significant worldwide climate change. Human society is highly dependent on the Earth’s climate. Climate patterns and human adaptations determine the availability of food, fresh water, and other resources for sustaining life. The social and economic characteristics of society have also been shaped largely by adapting to the seasonal and year-to-year patterns of temperature and rainfall. Some potential effects associated with climate change concern, first of all, the water resources. The quality and quantity of drinking water, water availability for irrigation, industrial use, and electricity generation, and the health of fisheries may be significantly affected by changes in precipitation. Increased rainfall may cause more frequent flooding and as a consequence the sea level may rise. Scientists announce that an estimated 50 cm rise by the year 2100 could submerge more than 5,000 square miles of dry land and an additional 4,000 square miles of wetlands in the U.S.
Another huge problem that can be caused by the global warming is an increase in mortality due to health issues. Changing patterns of precipitation and temperature may produce new breeding sites for pests and viruses, shifting the range of infectious diseases. In such way we may probably experience new epidemic strikes of diseases present 100 years ago.
Obviously, climate has a big influence on plants and animals in the natural environment, on oceans, and on human activities, such as agriculture, water supplies, and heating and cooling. The effects of climate change depend upon how much change there is, how fast it occurs, and how easily the world can adapt to the new conditions.
The effects of climate change on people would vary a lot from place-to-place. Economically developed societies, like those in North America, Europe and Japan, could use technology to reduce direct impacts. For example, they might develop new crop varieties, construct new water systems, and limit coastal development. Some northern countries, such as Canada and Russia, might even benefit from longer grow seasons and lower heating costs if the climate becomes warmer.
In contrast, economically less developed societies, like those in parts of Africa, Asia, and South America depend much more directly on climate, and could be hit much harder by sudden or large changes. Places like coastal Bangladesh and low-lying islands, could be flooded by storms or rising sea level. Droughts in Africa might become more serious. Developing countries have far fewer resources for adapting to such changes. They may not be able to afford large projects such as sea walls or aqueducts. Peasant farmers may have difficulty adopting new agricultural practices. The resulting social tensions could lead to more political unrest, large-scale migrations, and serious international problems such as terrorism and wars. Global warming, as we mentioned before, may affect directly even the nature.
When scientists look at the past they find the natural environment has often adapted to climate changes that have occurred gradually over many thousands of years. However, they also find instances in which changes have occurred rapidly, brought about by events such as sudden shifts in ocean currents. These rapid changes have often caused widespread species extinctions and the collapse of natural ecosystems.
One way to understand the importance of the speed of change is to think about native plants that grow in Europe. Global warming could mean that those currently growing in Greece might be better suited to Italy. If climate changes gradually, many plants may be able to “migrate” by spreading seeds into new areas where they can now grow. But if climate changes rapidly, many plants may not be able to spread their seeds far enough to reach the new area. As a result, some plant species may extinct and cause a chain reaction which can lead to the extermination of animal species which were depending on these plants.
As we can see, Global Warming is a very severe as well as urgent issue that should be controlled in the first place and then stopped. Fortunately people worldwide have realized that the atmosphere covers the entire globe and climate affects everyone as well as that if control strategies are to be effective they will require international cooperation. Under this trend of thinking from December 1 to 11, 1997, more than 160 nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate binding limitations on greenhouse gases for the developed nations, pursuant to the objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992. The outcome of the meeting was the Kyoto Protocol, in which the developed nations agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, relative to the levels emitted in 1990. The agreement calls on both developed and developing countries to take a number of steps including: formulating and implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures; cooperating in development and transfer of environmentally reliable, climate friendly technologies; and cooperating in research and observation of climate science, impacts and response strategies.
As a conclusion I would like to say that scientific and industrial advance can be of great help in order to improve and develop our every day life as well as our society but on the other hand can be offensive and even destructive towards our future. I think we should support any effort that is made for enriching our knowledge and expertise without however compromise our future and the future of our children.