Global warming has been termed as a “perfect moral storm.” This is because it links three key challenges to ethical activities in a common underpinning way. These challenges stem from the philosophy that changes in climate are indeed a global phenomenon and the fact that most theoretical tools are still underdeveloped in most relevant fields. When greenhouse gas is emitted into the atmosphere, it causes the climate to change, thus threatening key human values. This is often known to cause the tragedy of the commons (Alan), or the prisoner’s dilemma structure that is portrayed between different states. Every country would consider limiting global releases as means to reduce the risk of catastrophic effects. However, some countries still prefer releasing unimpeded. This activity is in contradiction with the mutual understanding that “human beings depend on the environment for natural resources” (Justin). We should sustain our resources by paying close attention to Climate Change before our future generations will suffer the consequences.” Alan defines global warming as “the average increase in Earth’s surface temperature due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases”. Once released, these gases can have effects on climate anywhere, regardless of their origin.
In the recent decade, the world has experienced stronger and even more frequent storms, such as Hurricane Sandy. Devastating droughts, flooding, and destructive wildfires in the West are some major examples of extreme temperature variance. America recorded the highest temperature in existing history in the year 2012. This is 10F above the previous statistics in 1998 (Malcolm). The risks presented by some type of weather variance continue to raise even more ethical concerns.
Ethics focuses on the morals and values of mankind. It deals with those actions or activities that the majority of the reasons people accept to be moral. The agreement is often viewed as a guideline. An example is the Golden Rule that defines the difference between wrong and right. Environmentalists agree that we should all take initiative and “fight for our tomorrow generations so that they can experience a safe environment as we would want for us.” (Alan). Several practices that minimize the present situation in the natural ecosystem should be put into effect. Alan points out that the Earth’s ecosystem can be prolonged once everyone agrees to make the same decisions. An example of practice for sustainable economic policies that should be designed for the long term is “sound environmental policy.”
Causes of Global Warming
Researches reveal that natural events, as well as human-related activities, contribute sizably to changes in average global temperatures. Alan affirms that global warming is basically a result of the increased emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This atmospheric carbon dioxide (co2) comes from anthropogenic sources. However, Justin points out that it is not the root cause of changes in climate, but an intermediate phase between human activities and the Earth’s dynamic systems’ response.
The concentration of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, nitrous gases, and methane in the atmosphere has increased evidently due to human activities since 1800. Martin adds that the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere has now “increased far past pre-industrial values seen from ice core spanning thousands of years ago”. This increase is primarily due to burning fossil fuel as well as other land-use changes over decades. Human related activities, such as deforestation, burning forests, destruction of the soil, among other are the major cause of global warming. These activities cause the release of carbon gas (co2) into the atmosphere. This is a perturbation and hence causing the Earth system to respond with certain changes.
The History of Warming
Climate has always varied throughout the history of Earth. However, any warming in the past does not necessarily imply that the present warming is also natural. For the past years, the industrial activities of humans have been the major cause of climate change.
The graph above proves that the concentration of Carbon Dioxide CO2 in our atmosphere has intensified since the human industrial revolution. In the 1880 to 1937 period, the global temperature variance was consistently below zero Celsius. The variance has however been constantly above zero Celsius since 1980. This period is regarded as the “modern record” by scientists. Since then the overall global temperature has warmed showing a record of +0.60 C in the last one hundred and twenty years.
Impacts of Global Warming indented
In earlier decades, changes in temperature often indicate natural climate change that sometimes reflects long-term trends. However, each of the preceding four decades has reflected high climate change than the average of the earlier decade.
Temperature to Shoot Up
Increased concentration of greenhouse gases and their effects have resulted in an overall increase in Global Temperature. Some regions may still experience wetter weather and cooling, however, the temperature of the Earth on average has gone up.
While the average global climate rises constantly, the species’ habitats keep on reducing. This results in minimal chances for the different ecosystems to naturally adapt. According to Malcolm the quotient of extinction of plants and animal species, and temperature variance around the globe have been significantly faster than expected.
Sea Levels to rising
Sea levels are anticipated to increase due to changes in climate. This is based on the fact that water expands when heated. This will affect human lives along coastlines and islands.
Increase in Disease and Pests
Researches blamed the increased rate of the outbreak of diseases throughout the ocean and land-based animal life on climate variations. An increase in temperature makes life suitable for infectious diseases, thus disrupting the natural ecosystem (Justin). Change in temperature facilitates the rate of growth and survival of the pathogen, the transmission of diseases, and host susceptibility.
How the World View Global Warming
While a sizable number of countries claim the environment should indeed be a priority at expense of economic gain, fewer consensuses on whether the population should pay more to combat its increasing effects are drawn. According to Martin, individuals should be ready to pay higher prices in order to effectively deal with global warming. A positive response to this statement is widespread in several Asian publics. China, India, South Korea, and Japan believe in the philosophy of dealing with global changes by paying higher. However, some publics disagreed with this statement.
The difference in the way states perceive Global warming has led to wrangles over a new treaty. Many countries believe that change in climate is indeed a quiet problem. This anxiety is more perceived in countries like Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, France, and South Korea (Martin). Other countries, such as Canada, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, among others express less concern. Publics of big polluters, such as China, Russia, and the United States continue to express the least concern, about 30 percent. However, these major greenhouse gas releasers have yet to set national targets and goals in order to minimize emissions. Furthermore, different pledges have already been laid by these publics in the line of achieving their stated goals and objectives. The question is, do these pledges bide to actions that would stabilize the atmosphere? These goals include preaching against deforestation while boosting energy sources that can be renewed. Others, such as the United States have set regulations on limits on industrial gas emissions.
The United States has taken different actions as part of the promises to cut the level of emissions by 17 percent by 2020 (Malcolm). The actions included fuel efficiency regulations for automobiles all over the state. Other states have also designed different regulations to allow cut the overall emission in the future decades. According to Malcolm, the State of California pledged that it would cap greenhouse gas release from power plants and factories, as well as emissions from cars and light trucks.
Resolving Ethical Dilemma
Resolving this dilemma requires us to acknowledge the fact that if we allow the warming to carry on, the Earth’s beauty and bounty will eventually be lost. Martin points out that “Securing Planet’s beauty for present and future generation” will impact both individual and community. He adds that human beings should seek ethical guidelines on climate change. Understanding principles of the environment, such as Ecological Integrity, Non-violence and peace, Socioeconomic Justice, and democracy is integral. We should group our decisions in these core values.
In the context of fighting global warming, many publics have designed different means to minimize the number of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere. The increasing concern of global warming saw several nations join the United State in signing a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change policy in 1994. This treaty acknowledges that the climate system has no borders, thus international bodies are needed to explore solutions to the problems imposed by the increased emission of greenhouse gases.
One solution is to use other renewable energy alternatives. Exploring and improving alternatives to coal, heating oil, gasoline, among other fossil fuels can help reduce the number of greenhouse gasses emitted to the atmosphere. Another solution that could help fight to warm is to go green. Trees are believed to absorb carbon dioxide CO2 and in turn producing oxygen, which is a not greenhouse gas, during photosynthesis. They are an essential component of the Earth’s natural atmospheric exchange cycle. Justin points out that “one tree will absorb close to one ton of CO2 during its lifetime”. Another way would be by using less energy while recycling more products. Using products with reduced packaging will eventually reduce waste. Moreover, manufacturing electricity is one of the key origins of greenhouse gasses. Therefore, reducing the amount of electricity means producing less carbon dioxide. Eating wisely and Trimming your waste is yet another solution. Avoiding processed items while growing own food reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Communication as a means to fight climate change can have great impacts. People should share information concerning recycling and conserving energy with others.
Global warming is undoubtedly an ethical concern and the world must prepare to deal with it. Our children will be the ones to experience the worst impacts of this kind of change. We are already beginning to feel the effect and we acknowledge that this warming is fueled basically by carbon concentration in the atmosphere. However, there are great opportunities to do whatever is right in order to protect tomorrow’s generation. Ethical guidelines are an integral compass when faced with complex challenges. They guide us to the right choice.
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