Effectsof Carbon Emissions on the Environment
Eighty-fivepercent of current United States fuel consumption comes from fossilfuel. Fossil fuel results from the decomposition of matter in theunderground, and it is used as the gas for vehicles and to powermachines. Power generators also use it to produce electricity andgenerate the power we use in our everyday lives. Fossil fuels play abig role in the environment and society. Unlike the nature of otherrenewable sources of energy, over-exploitation of fossils results ina permanent exhaustion. Some people think that damage to theenvironment is not as important as fossil fuels are useful. There arevarious problems that arise from the increased use of fossils. Theyinclude climate change, destruction of animals’ habitats, and CO2Emissions.
Fossilfuels are hydrocarbons, primarily coal, fuel oil or natural gas,formed from the remains of dead plants and animals. Coal is the mostcommonly used form of fossil fuel and is also the cheapest. Americaholds a large majority of the worlds’ coal. American mines produce1.2 billion tons of coal every year. Oil is another commonly usedfossil fuel. The world consumes around 85 million barrels per day(The National Academy of Sciences, 2015). That is a lot of oilburning, and that greatly affects our environment. The emissions fromvehicles and factories due to the burning of oil significantlycontribute to carbon dioxide emission. The gas is the principle causeof global warming. Natural gas is another major fossil fuel that wecurrently use. It provides 24% of our energy (The National Academy ofSciences. (2015). While there are the three main types of fossilfuels, there are others, and they all have negative effects on ourenvironment. These effects are widespread and will have a lastingnegative impact on our earth if we do not find an alternativeresource to use. The current level of Carbon dioxide emissions in theenvironment is the principle cause of reducing the purity of air andother environmental problems mainly because the involved parties aredoing very little to reverse the trend.
Globalwarming plays a big role in climate change. Over the last 150 years,burning fossil fuels has resulted in more than 25 percent increase ofcarbon dioxide in our atmosphere (The National Academy of Sciences,2015). Scientist in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeprovide information that the global average temperature has risen dueto the burning of fossil fuel. The scientists also indicate that agood number of people are oblivious to the role played by globalwarming in environmental destruction. Others are aware, but they takeadvantage of the lax laws to continue with their dangerous emissions.A good example is the ignorance of the Kyoto protocol that requiredcountries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions significantly. Theexcessive emission of carbon dioxide forms a barrier into theatmosphere that allows the heat from the sun to penetrate through,but it does not let the reflected heat from the ground to get back tothe atmosphere. Therefore, the local temperatures that support animallife becomes affected and some animals die while others migrate tolook for favorable conditions. However, due to the gradual nature ofthe trend, people continue with the emission of C02 eying theeconomic benefits while turning a blind eye to the environmentalimplications. To portray global warming as a detrimental effect onthe environment, it is instrumental to lay insight on some of theeffects it has on the ecosystem.
First,Animals are affected by the impact of fossil fuel use in a negativeway. They are losing their habitat, food sources, and population. Theincreased global temperature has affected the polar animals. Forexample, the population of the polar bear is decreasing due to therising temperatures. The animals try to customize their environmentby swimming for long hours, and this exposes them to the danger ofbeing attacked by other marine animals. Some animals are alsoshifting towards higher latitudes to shield themselves from therising temperature. A survey conducted by the National Geographic in2003 found out that about 677 species of birds were suffering fromthe consequences of global warming, and they were moving towards thepoles at a speed of 3.7 miles in 20years (National WildlifeFederation, 2015).
Thewarmer ocean temperatures also have adverse effects on the coralspecies. The cases of El-Niño that’s come with increased oceantemperature results in the death of some creatures. For example, the1997-98 El-Niño resulted in the damage of more than 15% of theworld’s reef (National Wildlife Federation, 2015). Some fishspecies follow the growth patterns of algae and planktons. As theymove towards the poles, the fish also edge towards the region.Fishermen who rely on fishing as an economic activity and a source offoods c record reduced catch in some fish species.
Plantsrequire carbon for photosynthesis. However, increased level of Co2has adverse effects on the growth of plants. In a study dubbed,Structural Path Analysis of Fossil Fuel Based C02 Emissions: A CaseStudy in China,” scientists researched about the C02 effects on theenvironment. The level of CO2 in the environment has increased toapproximately 392.52 parts per million parts as compared to theconcentration in 1750 that was 277 parts per million (Yang et al.2015). The effects on plant growth are visible indifferent parts ofthe world. There are huge forest swaths in Canada due to increasedphotosynthetic function. The growth is also present in Alaska andRussia. Due to the increased temperatures, the summers have becomehotter this has been a major cause of forest fires indifferent partsof the world. For example, the heightened cases of forest fires inRussia that were not there several decades ago (Yang et al. 2015).Some plants species are now occupying new habitats trough dispersal.For example, forests are slowly edging towards the Arctic regionssince they are becoming warmer. Danger looms in such a trend becausemelting the ice in the Arctic region would result into surging seasthat can bring about a lot of destruction to coastal towns.
Withthe current rate of carbon dioxide emission, there is an expectationof increased irregular rain pattern accompanied by acidic rains taris not favorable to crop production. According to the United NationsNational Assessment, the risks of forests fires are on the increase(Qvist & Brook, 2015). The communities that rely on agriculturewill continue to be adversely affected due to changes in plantmaturity, rainfall patterns coupled with very high temperatures advery cold winters (Yang et al. 2015).
Withoutmaintaining mutuality in the ecosystem, the earth cannot support anylife. The rising levels of carbon dioxide and temperature in theenvironment instigates plants and animals to mutate or migrate tosurvive. However, most of them will die if the responsiblestakeholders do not take any action. The developed countriescontribute to more than 80% of all the carbon dioxide emitted intothe environment. Ironically, these are the countries with thecapacity to adopt efficient and non-polluting energy uses likenuclear energy, the wind, water and solar energy. It is unfair whenless tahn10% of the countries continue to destroy the environment atthe expense of the masses.
Environmentexperts advise people to stop reducing the forest cover and plantmore trees to purify the air and also act as ground cover. Althoughthis can support the ecosystem to a significant extent, it cannotsolve the puzzle completely without addressing the source of theproblem. The Kyoto protocol provides a guideline for countries to useefficient sources of energy and gradually reduce the carbon dioxideemissions. However, the rate at which the big companies in thedeveloped countries are adopting the guidelines may not have asignificant effect for a very long time (Landry & Matthews,2015). Industries take advantage of the lax internal environmentalrules, and they concentrate on production to maximize their profitswithout paying attention to the effects they bring to theenvironment.
Inconclusion, carbon dioxide emissions affect almost every component ofthe ecosystem. Some plants and animals have become extinct in variousparts of the world due to increased temperatures unpredictableseasonal changes. Also, animals and plants are trying to find newhabitats, and they are moving towards the polar regions. Theprolonged summers and winters, as well as unpredictable rainfalls,make it difficult for farmers to plan their activities and theysometimes incur heavy losses. All the stakeholder must come togetherto reverse the trend of increasing carbon dioxide in the environment.As much as they make profits through production by using fossilfuels, they should consider about the sustainability of theenvironment as a result of their actions.
NationalWildlife Federation. (2015). Global Warming and Polar Bears. Retrievefrom http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Global-Warming/Effects-on-Wildlife-and-Habitat/Polar-Bears.aspx
Qvist,S. A., & Brook, B. W. (2015). Potentialfor Worldwide Displacement of Fossil-Fuel Electricity by NuclearEnergy in Three Decades Based on Extrapolation of Regional DeploymentData.
TheNational Academy of Sciences. (2015). FossilFuels.Retrieved fromhttp://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/energy-sources/fossil-fuels/
Yang,Z., Dong, W., Xiu, J., Dai, R., & Chou, J. (2015). StructuralPath Analysis of Fossil Fuel Based CO 2 Emissions: A Case Study forChina. PloSone,10(9),e0135727.
Landry,J. S., & Matthews, H. D. (2015). Fire vs. fossil fuel: all CO2emissions are not created equal. BiogeosciencesDiscussions,12,15185-15222.