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Climate Change Discussion Questions



About the climatic changes, the term force means any effect on the climate and different conditions that cause a temperature change, and as the result, global climate change. Radiative forcing is a measure of factors influence altering the balance of incoming and outgoing energy in Earth's atmosphere, land, and water. Also, it plays the role of an index of factors important about climate change (Alley et al., 2007).

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The forcing can be both; positive and negative. Positive forcing reflects specific altering of energy exchange balance that results in the heating of the Earth's surface. Negative forcing reflects altering which results in cooling of the Earth's surface.

Forcing is significant about the climate because any weather conditions, any ice formation or melting, everything from the rain to dry heat is connected with the exchange of energy and the balance in this exchange. It is very important to measure the balance and its change to control it.

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Anthropomorphic Climate Change

Climate changes, caused by human activities, are called anthropomorphic climate changes. By the start of the industrial revolution, the CO2 level in the atmosphere was 280 ppm. (the normal level is 240 ppm.). As the burning of a greater amount of fossil fuels commenced, the level rose rapidly and by 2010 it has reached 392 ppm. The methane level rose from 700 ppb. at the beginning of the revolution to 1788 ppb. in 2008. Other greenhouse gasses were also released. The total effect of these gases increased the average temperature of the Earth. In comparison with the other factors, the greatest contribution to global warming is made by anthropomorphic factors. What is curious, despite all the negative aspects of global warming, there is an opinion, that the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases has prevented the ice age (Anthropomorphic Global Warming, n.d.).

Renewable Energy Sources

For centuries, humanity has been using fossil fuels for energy purposes, but there is an opinion that what is hidden by nature under the surface, should stay there. People quite often break the rules, which, in this case, has led to global warming. Fossil fuels have numerous disadvantages, and the main disadvantage is the limit. Fossil fuels are not infinite and soon humanity will use all the fuel. Renewable energy has neither limits nor negative effects, till the time when the winds stop blowing, the water evaporates and geothermal activity ends up with the most powerful ice age. These are the main renewable energy sources. Another one is bioenergy. The methane received from natural reactions is used for energy purposes, instead of being emitted to the atmosphere.

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These sources are natural and do not contaminate the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses, thus reducing the average temperature and preventing global warming. The energy of wind, waves, geothermal sources, and waterfalls makes no emissions, the energy is free and available almost everywhere. The usage of renewable sources will completely change the situation around the world. But the contribution of global energy production is not significant today. According to the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, renewable energy contributes only 12.9% of all the energy, produced today. These 12.9% contain bioenergy (10.2% of contribution), hydropower (2.3%), wind energy (0.2%), geothermal energy (0.1%), direct solar energy (0.1%) and ocean energy (0.002% of the overall contribution). Further research and financing will increase the contribution to global energy production, thus replacing gas, coal, and oil usage and reducing the negative effects.

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Melting of the Arctic Ice

Arctic ice contains 95% of Earth's ice and 70% of the world's freshwater. In case 100% of the Antarctic ice melted, it would cause about 61 meters (200 feet) rise in the sea levels on the whole planet. But the melting does not make a great contribution to climate change now. The melting of polar ice caps of the Antarctic would increase the sea level by around 0.5 m., whereas the sea level would be raised by 56 m. in case of the collapse of the grounded interior reservoir of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which will lead to serious problems. But this process requires several millenniums. The greater contribution to climate change now is made by thermal expansion. About 400 mm. increase in the sea level per year is made by the thermal expansion (IPCC Third Assessment Report, 2001), whereas arctic ice melt increases the level by 20 mm. per year. At the same time melting of the ice provides positive feedback. The more ice melts, the more water is released and the bigger the surface of the oceans is. Sun rays (including infra-red) are absorbed by the land but are reflected by the surface of the water. So the bigger the surface of the water is, the more sunlight is reflected space, thus reducing the global temperature. Here it is important to note that, when the surface of the water will start freezing, the number of reflected sun rays will be so huge, that the lack of infra-red light will lead to the continuous ice age.

It is hard to predict the exact level of the sea due to the variety of aspects influencing it. All the processes of ice melting, icebergs forming and thermal expansion are connected. This complicates predictions about the sea level and the timing.

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Potential Impacts from Climate Change in Northern Ohio

Ohio depends heavily on groundwater, freshwater from Lake Erie, and rainfalls for agriculture. As the state's population continues to grow, a projected shift in rainfall, groundwater recharge, evaporation rates will influence all freshwater users in the state. Lake levels will decline everywhere, including Lake Erie, due to increased moisture evaporation caused by higher temperatures and decreased ice cover. Reduced summer water levels are likely to diminish the recharge of groundwater, cause small streams to dry up, and reduce the area of wetlands, resulting in poorer water quality and less habitat for wildlife (Confronting Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region, 2003).

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