Our Green Planet Do you forget to switch of the fan or light when you leave the room? Would you rather use a vehicle than walk? Well, the next time you urge your father or mother to drop you by car to some place that is at a walking distance, think again. You may be one of the millions leaving behind too large a carbon footprint for your feet!
We all know that earth is getting warmer. In the last century alone, it's temperature has goes up 0.7 degree Celsius. Climate model project that the average temperature could rise further by at leaset 1.1 degree Celsius in this country. In the 5 Billion-year-old-history of our planet, such a rapid increase has not been seen until recently.
Why is the earth getting warmer suddenly? Its because the percentage of the greenhouse gases - mainly carbon dioxide - i the atmosphere has been going up steadily. Just as a glass greenhouse traps the sun's heat, green house gases like CO2 and methane too lock in the heat energy from the sun into the atmosphere. Of course, greenhouse gases are very important; without them, the earth would be too cold to support life. But increased levels of these gases means more heat is getting tapped in th atmosphere than necessary.
Most scientists agree that human are solely responsible for the higher level of greenhouse gases. The single largest culprit is the thermal power plants that emit CO2 when a fossil fuel like coal is burnt to produced electricity. Also, garbage landfills release methane - another powerful greenhouse gas-into the atmosphere.
Emissions from factories and vehicles as well as air conditioners do their bit to warm up the earth. In fact, aeroplanes do not emit just carbon dioxide, but also nitrous oxide, which is more even dangerous. Hence, scientists are currently exploring the possibility of using biofuels for transport.
Courting Disaster What will happen if we continue to ignore the alarm bells? Global warming is indeed real and many believe it effects are already irreversible. Usually climate changes occur extremely slowly (spread over thousands of years) and therefore plants and animals get enough time to get to adapt themselves. But now sudden climate changes have begun affecting various ecosystems, forcing some species out of their habitat. Polar bears could be the one of the first casualties as the arctic has started shrinking at a frightening pace.
If ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, not only will sea levels rise but the oceans will become less salty. Less salty oceans could disturb various ocean currents taht affect the climate of the coastal regions. Warmer oceans could cause stronger cyclones. Also, expanded oceans would make the ground water in the coastal areas salty and render the soil infertile.
Some areas in the world will get more rains, while some others will suffer serious droughts and heat waves. The already dry African continent may become even drier. As the glaciers in the Himalayas start melting, major rivers in India, Nepal and Cina may flood for the next few decades, and once the water runs out, there could be severe famines. Many disease-producing viruses and bacteria that thrive in the warmer climate may cause frequent outbreaks of diseases.
How can you make a difference? You don't have to wait until you grow up to do something about global warming-in your own small way, you too can contribute towards the cause.
Its very important to know what the problem is, so that we can tackle it better. So read up on the subject and discuss it with your parents, teachers and friends. You can persuade your elders to join the cause by adopting few simple steps to reduce pollution.
1. Walk or use a cycle whenever possible. Use public transport or car pool.
2. Always remember to switch off the fans and lights. even if you leave your TV or computer on stand by, they still consume up to 75 percent of the energy when turned on.
3. Remove mobile chargers from the socket after charging.
4. Switch to energy efficient bulbs that use less energy and last longer.
5. Reduce, reuse and recycle: Try using less-reduce the use of disposable things. Reuse whatever you can, like plastic bags.
6. Plant a tree and take care of it. Remember the trees are the best carbon absorber.
7. Tap the freely available solar energy-solar heaters can be installed on the rooftops of buildings.
8. Request your parents to switch off the car when waiting at the traffic signals.