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Fiji Time: 6:26 AM on Tuesday 29 July

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Consequences of global warming

Saturday, July 05, 2008

QUESTION: WHAT are the consequences of global warming?

ANSWER: MANY of the consequences of global warming are being seen and experienced now. They include an increase in drought and wildfires, more intense rainstorms, more powerful and dangerous hurricanes, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, an increase in deadly heat waves and spread of diseases and ecosystem shifts and species dying. All of these are already happening.

QUESTION: HAS global warming occurred in the past?

ANSWER: YES, it certainly has. The findings of scientists suggest that some three to four hundred thousand years ago, the average surface temperature of Planet Earth was sometimes as high as six degrees above or as low as 17 degrees below today's average surface temperature.

However, these changes were directly related to a variety of natural causes, including atmospheric particles from massive volcanic eruptions and orbital variations changing the inclination of the earth toward the sun.

Sadly, today's accelerating change in climate is primarily the result of unnatural or human causes. It is human induced.

QUESTION: WHAT human activities are linked to global warming?

ANSWER: THE sad fact is that, because of our ecological connection to all life on the planet, almost everything that modern-day human beings do has the potential to adversely affect the climate and contribute to global warming. Modern human beings have become lousy caretakers of Planet Earth. The damage is related to many sources — the burning of coal, oil and natural gas as well as deforestation and various agricultural and industrial practices.

QUESTION: WHY are trees part of the answer to global warming?

ANSWER: TREES are important because they use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen which is particularly important to our existence. Carbon dioxide, is also quite important but not at the levels found in our atmosphere. The problem is that every day, humans are burning or cutting down hundreds of square miles of our most important air purifiers and oxygen producers — trees — but replacing them seems to be cut out of the equation. So we have been using more than we're putting back.

QUESTION: IF we plant more trees, will it solve the problem?

ANSWER: ALTHOUGH planting more trees will help, it is not a fix-all solution and there is a small chance we can plant enough trees in the future to offset the worldwide devastation of forests. The climate change problem is critical enough that we need to look to green technologies for reducing our consumption of fossil fuels, including solar, wind and geothermal generation of electricity. Planting trees is only one part of fixing the problem and it certainly won't fix it on its own.

QUESTION: HOW is carbon increasing global warming?

ANSWER: CARBON is not the problem. Carbon dioxide is and not just carbon dioxide as it's found in nature but excessive amounts of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere from human-related activities.

Carbon dioxide or CO2 in excessive amounts increases the size of the temperature-regulating blanket surrounding the earth. This causes the surface temperature of the Earth to rise unnaturally, which as a result, increases global warming effects.


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