We are living in the midst of a great chemical experiment, and some serious consequences are becoming apparent to scientists. More than two billion pounds of chemicals are spewed into the air each year. These chemicals are brewing a disastrous stew, resulting in an atmosphere crisis. The greatest consequences of the atmosphere crisis may be global warming and the ozone depletion. If humankind wants to survive well into the next millennium, than we must stop this horrid destruction of our own environment.
The Earth appears to be warming due to the greenhouse effect. Scientists estimate that average temperature could climb about 2 degrees Celsius in 20 years. This change in the global climate would have disastrous results, including drought, coastal flooding and increased species extinction. And, scientists have discovered a hole in the ozone layer. The ozone layer is the only protection for life on Earth against deadly ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Once the ozone layer is completely destroyed, all life on Earth will cease to exist, killed by the deadly radiation. The planet will become a barren rock devoid of all life.
Global warming is the predicted result of the greenhouse effect, created by so-called greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, in the atmosphere. The increase in these gases is thought to be caused by industrialization, especially by the use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
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If we do not slow down our use of fossil fuels and stop destroying, the forests, the world could become hotter than it has been in the past million years. Average global temperatures have risen 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last century. If carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to spill into the atmosphere, global temperatures could rise five to 10 degrees by the middle of the next century.
Emissions from the industrial sector declined 1.3% even though the U.S. economy grew 3.9% in 1998. However, CO2 emissions from transportation grew by 2.4% while CO2 emissions of regulated utilities expanded by 3.2% as a result of a hotter than normal summer. Overall, 1999 U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were about 10.7 percent higher than 1990 emissions, which are estimated at 1,655 million metric tons carbon equivalent. The 1.1-percent average annual growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 1999 compares with average growth rates of 1.0 percent for the U.S. population, 1.5 percent for energy consumption, 2.2 percent for electric power generation, and 3.1 percent for real GDP Table ES2. U.S.
Global warming is a serious issue in today’s society. World powers such as the United States, Japan, Canada, and Australia can usually see eye to eye with each other about global warming. Other countries, either less developed or more climate aware, do not agree with the countries that are more industrial, because they want strict regulations on air pollution that the more developed countries do not want. The more industrialized countries complain because they say that in order to keep the world going at a safe and orderly pace, they cannot have a change the lifestyle that we are used to today. Both sets of countries know that the amount of greenhouse gasses need to be lightened, but cannot come up with a viable solution.