Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
Scientists agree almost unanimously that man-made global warming is happening and that the effects of it are likely to produce severe and intensifying climate change over future decades unless it is reduced.
Although it now may be too late to prevent all the negative effects of global warming completely, certainly in terms of the present and near future, it is important to act immediately and decisively in order to prevent global warming from getting worse.
The idea being that tackling global warming now will minimize the degree and impact of climate change over the coming decades. This is why it is a priority for scientists, politicians, businesses and ordinary people to understand how to stop global warming.
If we want to address global warming, along with the other environmental problems associated with our continued rush to burn our precious fossil fuels as quickly as possible, we must learn to use our resources more wisely, kick our addiction, and quickly start turning to sources of energy that have fewer negative impacts.
— David Suzuki
What Causes Global Warming?
The main causes of global warming essentially fall into two categories, those that are natural and those that are man-made.
Natural causes are things such as variations in solar activity and the natural release of methane from certain landscapes such as the arctic tundra.
Man-made causes are generally due to the release of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide which are ‘greenhouse gasses’ and contribute to the ‘greenhouse effect’ – this is the process that occurs when certain gasses trap warm air in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Dealing with global warming doesn't mean we have all got to suddenly stop breathing. Dealing with global warming means that we have to stop waste, and if you travel for no reason whatsoever, that is a waste.
— David Attenborough
So is the Greenhouse Effect the Biggest Cause?
In short, yes. Although there is some discussion over what proportion of global warming is caused naturally and what proportion is man-made, the overall scientific consensus is that by far the biggest contributor to global warming is the greenhouse effect.
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The only good news about this is that because the sudden growth in warming seems to be largely a man-made phenomenon, we have the power to control and reduce it.
Global warming is not a conqueror to kneel before - but a challenge to rise to. A challenge we must rise to.
— Joe Lieberman
What Actions Need to be Taken to Combat Global Warming?
As the greenhouse effect is the biggest cause of global warming, to stop it we need to focus our attention on reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses that are released into the atmosphere. With that in mind, there are a number of specific steps that need to be taken in order to reduce and eventually stop global warming:
1. In the near future, all fossil fuel burning power stations, such as those that burn coal, need to be made more efficient so that they release less CO2 into the atmosphere. In the longer term, fossil fuel burning power stations need to be phased out altogether and replaced with alternative sources of energy.
2. Increasing the energy efficiency of motor vehicles and reducing the numbers of them on the world’s roads is also necessary if we want to stop global warming, as they burn up fossil fuel and emit CO2.
3. Mining for coal and oil needs to be limited and eventually stopped, as the process releases methane into the atmosphere.
4. The use of certain fertilizers in agriculture needs to be reduced, specifically the ones which release nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas.
5. Limit and prevent the deforestation of the planet. Trees absorb CO2 and transform it into oxygen.
6. Some scientists argue that the growing human population is a major underlying problem and that it will be difficult to deal with the other issues related to global warming without tackling population growth.
7. Some people argue (controversially?) that as the methane gas that is released by domestic farm animals (such as cows) contributes to global warming, a reduction in meat consumption and the wider adoption of vegetarianism can help to reduce global warming.
The first thing that is not obvious to people is global warming is a less-than-1% effect. It's like being shortchanged at the bank by a penny every dollar. Over a long period of time with lots of transactions, that piles up.
— Nathan Myhrvold
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2014 Paul Goodman