The average temperature has been gradually increasing worldwide. The whole world is struggling with a rapid climate change, and it inflicts several problems on the environment. The climate changes on the Earth do not only affect the environment itself but also humans, animals, plants, and ecosystems. Due to the increase of global temperature, global warming has been one of the biggest issues in recent decades. Global warming is the rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system.
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Since the 1970s, at least 90% of the energy of warming has been accumulated in the oceans. In spite of the dominant role of the oceans in the accumulation of heat, the global warming is noted for the growth of the average air temperature at the surface of the land and ocean. Global warming is mostly caused by human activities and habits, such as not recycling properly, producing air pollutions rapidly, using technology wrongly, etc. There needs to be some change in humans’ behavior in order to prevent this crisis.
For years, the disputants have disagreed mainly about whether the climate is changing; and assuming that it is altering, they discuss whether or to what extent humanity bears responsibility for it (Zinn 2007). The denial of climate change is a set of organized attempts to downplay the significance, reject or declare the scientific consensus on the extent of global warming, its dangers and relationship with human activity on the basis of commercial or ideological motives as non-existent. Typically, such efforts take the form of the scientific rhetorical dispute without actual following of the rules which should comply with such disputes.
The denial of climate change may be connected with the fuel industry lobbyists, advocates of big business, and conservative research centers (mainly in the U.S.). It is considered as a form of denial of science. After twenty years of the subject being in focus, there are no serious scientific attempts to refute existing theoretical concepts and deriving consequences.
In addition, climate skeptics reject or call in question the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. The subject of doubt may be the fact of warming, human role in this process, or its possible danger. Climate skepticism is a widespread public sentiment in many countries. It is harmful since it prevents political decisions aimed at reducing the dangerous global warming.
Studies show that skepticism about the anthropogenic nature of global warming is usually more widespread than the denial of the fact of rising temperatures. A third of the population of the United States and Europe share the opinion that there is no warming occurring. According to polls, 40% of Britons agreed with the statement that “the seriousness of global warming is grossly exaggerated.”
However, the public debate about the climate change is shifting (Zinn 2007). A simple scheme of interaction of human activity and climate has strengthened in the broad public consciousness. Carbon dioxide produced from combustion of organic fuel accumulates in the atmosphere and delays solar radiation reflection by the Earth’s surface. This fact leads to an increase in temperature and causes the so-called “greenhouse effect.”
The origin of the late-20th-century increase in global temperatures has prompted considerable discussion. Detailed comparisons of climate model results with observations suggest that anthropogenic changes, particularly greenhouse gas (GHG) increases, are probably responsible for this climate change (Crowley 2000).
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the average temperature has increased by 0,74 °C. About two thirds of these changes have occured since1980. Each of the last three decades was warmer than the previous, and the temperature was higher than in any previous decade since 1850.
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The scientific understanding of the causes of global warming has become more defined over time. There is 90% probability that most of the changes in temperature have been caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases due to human activity. The anthropogenic impact is noted in the warming of the atmosphere and ocean, changes in the global water cycle, reduction of snow and ice, growth of the sea level, as well as changes in the number of extreme weather events. It is very likely that human activity is the main cause of the observed warming since the middle of the 20th century
Climate change law has been developed along three distinct paths: common law liability claims, regulation under existing statutes, and new legislation (Simpson 2011). Assessment of the causes and consequences of global warming is the basis for action on mitigation and adaptation at the level of states, corporations, and individuals. Many environmental organizations advocate the adoption of measures against climate change mainly by consumers, but also at the municipal, regional, and governmental levels.
Today, the air in the United States is cleaner as per almost all standards than everywhere else since the government began to monitor its quality. In fact, only with the adoption of the Clean Air Act in 1963, the United States began to pay close attention to the connection between air pollution and public health. In accordance with the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Agency for Environmental Protection (EPA) focuses on six key air pollutants that have a significant impact on public health and environment. These are ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and lead.
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Since 1970, when President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, emissions of these pollutants were reduced by more than half, from 273 million tonnes per year to 133 million. A number of nuisances and tort claims have been filed against large emitters of greenhouse gases for their alleged contribution to global warming and the alleged climate effects thereof (Simpson 2011). As a result, the reduction of individual pollutants became equally impressive. During the same period, emissions of lead decreased by 98 percent, volatile organic compounds forming smog at the level of the ground reduced by 54 percent, carbon monoxide (CO) by 52 percent, sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 49 percent, and nitrogen oxide (NOx ) by 24 percent.
Second, “the EPA and state regulatory agencies have come under attack for not regulating greenhouse gases as “pollutants” under the Clean Air Act” (Simpson 2011). One of the most famous cases was EPA’s judicial claim against Volkswagen Group. Autoconcern was blamed for the fact that its cars with diesel engines were set with software that bypassed the need to check the level of emissions. As a result, Volkswagen was forced to partially suspend the sale of some models of diesel cars in the U.S.
Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House, as well as state legislators, have tried for years with limited success to draft comprehensive climate change legislation (Simpson 2011). Environmentalists have offered more solid standards for all discharges of pollutants, argued for prohibiting the use of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-damaging chemicals, and presented a program of prevention and control of major air pollutants in homes, factories, and offices. They argue that the necessary comprehensive approach that takes into account multiple interactions of different pollutants should replace the current method under which each pollutant is evaluated separately. Some medical professionals also believe that the emphasis in the laws on air pollution should be shifted from fighting the sources of pollution and discharges to the struggle for the reduction of the impact of these pollutants.
Environmentalists are aware that the price of implementation of a harder and more comprehensive pollution control program is high. However, they argue that the long-term price of failure of these measures can be astronomical. It can include massive harm to people, animals, crops, materials, forests, soils, and lakes. At the level of the countries, especially industrialized ones, there should be an agreement to ban the use of CFCs in order to stop global reduction of ozone, slow the global warming, reduce the discharges of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, control acid rains, and reduce the discharge of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
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Now, it is predicted that the temperature will increase in the range of 0.3 to 4.8% by 2100. In November 2015, world leaders have gathered for the annual climate conference in Paris. It was the 21st meeting in a row after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. The signing of a new global agreement which could replace the Kyoto Protocol was the aim of the summit. In addition, the main goal of this conference was to achieve the universal and compulsory for the implementation agreement, which allows to effectively fight against climate change and accelerate the transition to the society and economy which consume carbon technologies in very little amounts. For this purpose, the agreement should lead to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation of companies to the present and future climate change. It is intended to find a balance between the needs and capabilities of each country. The distribution of efforts between developed countries and countries with emerging economies is one of the most sensitive points of this agreement. The Paris Conference should also help developed countries collect 100 billion a year since 2020 to assist in fighting against the climate change. However, the new law is not able to curb global warming and climate change.
The main objective of this process is a new level of engagement. The second goal is to take into account the peculiarities of each country and involve them in an ambitious project. The third objective is transparency; all applications must be published on the UNFCCC website. Finally, all projects are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing the development of national economies and adaptation of people to climate change as well as actual and expected living conditions.
It could be suggested that world leaders will be able to reduce global temperature by up to 0.5 degrees. However, this will happen only if all countries fulfill all the conditions of the new contract. The USA and China, two leaders in terms of air emissions, have not taken any concrete commitments. Even if they agree to comply with all the restrictions, it will not become a turning point in the issue of climate change. Nowadays, the world is faced with agreements that no country wants to adhere to.
In preparation for the Paris Conference, each country must make its contribution adopted at the national level. At this stage, these projects are considered only as goals, but not a liability. These are the so-called Intented Nationally Determined Contributions. However, the voluntary scheme of restrictions essentially changes nothing. The countries offer a modest reduction of carbon emissions since they know that they can fulfill them. Large reductions which are required are not made. Also, the system of international pressure on countries that fail to meet their obligations also goes to the past. It is simply not needed since the states would take on fewer responsibilities. From the diplomatic point of view, everything will be fine, but emissions continue to rise.
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This year, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has reached a record level over the last million years. World Health Organization has recognized air pollution as the most common cause of death in the world. In 2015, the area of glaciers in the North and South Poles has begun to decline with the greatest pace over the last 100 years. The main reason is greenhouse emissions. With the good scenario, the world can keep the global temperature increase at 2 degrees for the next 100 years. However, a more realistic scenario assumes a rise in global temperatures by 5 degrees. This should lead to irreversible climate change. Right now, public organizations still rely on new laws.
Until 2008, it was believed that economic development itself should stop global warming. Then, more than 10% of world GDP was due to new technologies that worked on the basis of energy saving. However, after the economic crisis, countries care more about the recovery of their own economies. Even now, when the economy of developed countries slowly recovers, presidents and prime ministers do not hasten to take ambitious responsibilities. Therefore, it is unlikely that the climatic situation in the world will change significantly due to the law signed in Paris.
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One of the weak points in the Paris agreement is the absence of a mechanism to monitor emissions in the atmosphere. Consequently, it could be recognized that everything depends on the goodwill of countries. However, in the USA, presidential elections are approaching. It is highly possible that because of them, the politicians will not tell the voters that they are going to cut jobs to reduce emissions.
The UN Commission on Climate Change does not expect to receive the first data on emission reduction before 2030. Moreover, it will happen only with the full support of the largest countries. However, even in this situation, in order to reduce the temperature by 2.7 degrees Celsius, it is necessary to reduce greenhouse gases by 3,000 gigatons. It is hard to say whether the countries will accept such reduction. It is a very big goal, and probably the maximum what the countries will agree for is reduction by 50 gigatons.
The economy, which is gradually being restored, will not be the driving force of environmental initiatives. Nowadays, only 0.2% of world energy is produced by solar and wind power plants. By 2040, the world may increase this figure to 2.2%. However, it will take more than $25 trillion of investment or subsidies. Private companies are not willing to invest in this direction.
Finally, the commitment of such countries as the United States and China look very modestly. Beijing and Washington do not want to tell real figures and talk about how to control this process. As it was mentioned above, everything again comes to the goodwill of the states. The governments are likely to prolong the process of ratification of this law for many years. It can be suggested that the main reason for this is that they do not want to take responsibility for a possible economic slowdown in order to protect the stability of climate.
The actual reason is the fact that the jobs directly affect the lives of the electorate; meanwhile, the melting of glaciers and drying rivers do not have a direct impact on the internal policy of the state. Major world economies begin to act on their own, without looking at the flooding of tropical islands, extinction of the polar caps, and the number of hurricanes. Undeveloped countries will be most affected by the processes of global warming, meanwhile Western nations will not only keep a significant part of their territories but also the weather in the EU and the U.S. will not change much. This situation will continue for a long time. However, when the ecological balance will be disturbed, the global climate may influence badly all countries of the world. Fuel reserves will be exhausted, and the need to move back to coal or oil will arise.
Over the past five years, emissions have only grown. Now, the world is closer to the point where climatic equilibrium is disturbed, and it is practically impossible to return the planet to its former state. All these years, world leaders gathered at the summits on global warming, but none of these meetings produced many results. Now, hope is directed to a new conference in Paris.
However, economic revival of the Western countries after the crisis has only just begun, and it is unlikely that they will want to limit themselves to environmental obligations. Many politicians believe that the effect of rising global temperature is exaggerated.
There is hope that the countries will limit themselves. It seems doubtful, but there are precedents. Last year, the United States agreed to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants by 20%. China was ready to reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 1 billion tons. Their example could be followed by other states if the economy did not become more important than the environment.
One of the main weak points of attempts of applying climate law is the conflict between developing and developed countries. Developed countries are not satisfied by the fact that the Western world bears more than 60% of the costs for combating climate change. The poor countries are also involved in this struggle. The number of poor countries includes China and India. At the same time this year, China has become the world’s largest economy, surpassing the U.S. for the first time. By 2030, India will be the leader in terms of population with the figure of 1.4 billion. Nevertheless, with all the above mentioned, Delhi and Beijing insist on obtaining quotas for greenhouse gas emissions.
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More than 65% of all emissions in China are produced due to coal power because the energy resource remains to be the cheapest. By 2050, China will have to throw up to 10 gigatons of greenhouse gases in the air, which is 25% more than now. Really poor countries argue that they can not deal with climate change which threatens them. Over the next 50 years, large areas in Africa will become deserts, and the number of hungry people will increase by 30%.
Therefore, climate change adaptation is about the environment, but it is not about the environmental law (Ruhl 2010). Ecology has not become a pressing issue for the world leaders yet. Policy on climate change, which has been conducted over the last decades, is absolutely unacceptable. It brings the ecology to the ideology and business. It does not control the real effects of the implemented changes; it does not adhere to the scientific methodology; it does not follow the research results that can be evidenced by the last year’s record low temperature on the British Arctic station, –55.4 degrees, or a record area of ice cover this year. This policy discriminates against the poor, giving the privilege to the rich. Therefore, it is very unclear how the environmental laws will affect the global warming in the future.