Kyoto Treaty Addresses the Problem Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Increased agriculture, deforestation, landfills, industrial production, and mining also contribute a significant share of emissions. In 1997, the United States emitted about one-fifth of total global greenhouse gases.

Changing Climate

Global average surface temperatures have increased 0.5-1.0°F since the late 19th century. The 20th century's 10 warmest years all occurred in the last 15 years of the century. Of these, 1998 was the warmest year on record. Snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere and floating ice in the Arctic Ocean have decreased. Globally, sea level has risen 4-8 inches over the past century. Worldwide precipitation over land has increased by about one percent. The frequency of extreme rainfall events has increased throughout much of the United States. Scientists expect that the average global surface temperature could rise 1-4.5°F (0.6-2.5°C) in the next fifty years, and 2.2-10°F (1.4-5.8°C) in the next century. Evaporation will increase as the climate warms, which will increase average global rainfall. Soil moisture is likely to decline in many regions, and intense rainstorms are likely to become more frequent. Sea level is likely to rise two feet along most of the U.S. coast

Scientists know for certain that human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2), in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times have been well documented. There is no doubt this atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is due to human activities. it's well accepted by scientists that greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere and tend to warm the planet. By increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, human activities are strengthening Earth's natural greenhouse effect. The key greenhouse gases emitted by human activities remain in the atmosphere for periods ranging from decades to centuries. A warming trend of about 1°F has been recorded since the late 19th century. Warming has occurred in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and over the oceans. Confirmation of 20th-century global warming is further substantiated by melting glaciers, decreased snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere and even warming below ground. Nevertheless, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated there was a "discernible" human influence on climate; and that the observed warming trend is "unlikely to be entirely natural in origin."

Most recently, IPCC wrote, "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities." As atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise, scientists estimate average global temperatures will continue to rise as a result. By how much and how fast remain uncertain. IPCC projects further global warming of 2.2-10°F (1.4-5.8°C) by the year 2100. The IPCC states that even the low end of this warming projection "would probably be greater than any seen in the last 10,000 years.

Scientists have identified that our health, agriculture, water resources, forests, wildlife and coastal areas are vulnerable to the changes that global warming may bring. There is the possibility that a warmer world could lead to more frequent and intense storms, including hurricanes. Preliminary evidence suggests that, once hurricanes do form, they will be stronger if the oceans are warmer due to global warming. More and more attention is being aimed at the possible link between El Nino events - the periodic warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean - and global warming. Scientists are concerned that the accumulation of greenhouse gases could inject enough heat into Pacific waters such that El Nino events become more frequent and fierce. However, research has not been able to make a definitive connection between global warming and El Nino events. It is certain that human activities are rapidly adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and that these gases tend to warm our planet. The United States is responsible for one fifth of all emissions, and should become a part of the Kyoto Treaty.


Environmental Protection Agency

National Academies

National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration

National Resources Defense Council

Union of Concerned Scientists

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