By: Liana Balicka
Hundreds of articles have been written about global warming. No one denies its disastrous consequences for humanity. Scientists are working to solve the problem, politicians are debating, and global warming is approaching a critical point. Since the first industrial revolution, the average temperature on the Earth’s surface has risen by 1˚C. It is predicted to rise by 4 ˚C over the next 80 years, which means that unless we take drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we could face a global catastrophe. It is currently difficult to determine precisely what the impact of rising temperatures will be on ecosystems and human life, but melting glaciers and polar ice caps as well as expanding desert areas will cause the extinction of plants and animals. Extreme weather events will cause damage to the world economy on a scale never before recorded.
How can we protect ourselves from Armageddon?
First of all, we should look at human activity, a side effect of which is the emission of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere, related to global warming. The increase in the concentration of this gas is a consequence of, among other things, the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and its derivatives), cement production, deforestation and inappropriate farming. Eliminating, or at least reducing, the effects of these activities is a global challenge. Today, it is an indisputable fact that the global climate is undergoing unprecedented changes and that global warming is affecting rainfall patterns, oceans and winds in all regions of the world. Higher temperatures will impose costs on the global economy that may be unbearable for the world’s poorest countries.
According to scientists, however, it is possible to change the course of events by reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally and achieving zero CO2 emissions. International environmental organisations have recognised the danger and are calling for rational solutions. EU leaders have responded to the call. A European climate law is being drafted, which will transform the economy. Promotion and implementation of innovations in the field of ‘green technologies’ will certainly provide an answer to the question of what the world will look like in a dozen or so years or in several decades. The United States, China and India, although they are the largest industrial emitters, react nervously to issues relating to global warming, because their economies, industry and electricity production are largely dependent on coal and its derivatives.
Carbon has long circulated between the atmosphere, the biosphere, the soil and the oceans. The balance was disturbed by the fossil fuel reservoir created tens of millions of years ago. During the industrial revolution, man saw opportunities to use coal in economic activities, but forgot that as a result of burning of fossil fuels and the development of industry and agriculture on an industrial scale, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and CFC are emitted into the atmosphere – leading to the greenhouse effect.
Climate change is leading to many phenomena that worry scientists, politicians and ordinary citizens. It would appear that there are two rational solutions that we should pursue simultaneously: we should wean the economy off coal, reduce the consumption of raw materials and fuels and switch to the use of renewable energy sources. This is possible by changing the lifestyle of each and every one of us, as there are billions of people living in the world. By making a joint effort, we can prevent the apocalypse. Admittedly, in the history of the world, ice ages have alternated with periods of considerable warming, and perhaps modern man can only observe the dynamics of this trend. Nevertheless, before we colonise the planet Mars, where we will not find earthly snow attractions, not to mention summer swimming, let us try – in our common interest – to engage in effective social activity to support scientists in the fight against global warming. Let us also support those politicians and business people who are not unfamiliar with concepts such as carbon neutrality, CO2 storage and its recycling, solar geoengineering, cheap energy or innovative emergency solutions.
Views on global warming probably differ, they can oscillate between scepticism and radicalism depending on who is preaching them and whom they are reaching, but perceptible climate change as a result of global warming must be of concern, and is an alarm bell that should wake us all up.
Poland’s climate is a warm, moderate, transitional one, and it is probably beneficial to us and somewhat relaxing, since even strong winds, tornadoes or locally occurring floods seem to be just a small toy in the hands of mother nature compared with hurricanes, cyclones or tsunamis. But will this always be the case? That is the puzzle to be solved.