The greenhouse effect is the temperature rise on the surface because of thermal energy, which appears in the atmosphere due to heating gases. The main gases that lead to this phenomenon are water vapor and carbon dioxide. The greenhouse effect keeps the Earth's surface temperature suitable for the emergence and development of life. If there were no greenhouse effect, the average temperature of the planet would be much lower than it is now. However, the impermeability of the atmosphere is high in relation to infrared radiation with the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases, which raise the temperature of the Earth. During the period from 1906 to 2005, the average temperature rose by 0.74 degrees. According to experts, in the next twenty years, the rise in temperature will be approximately by 0.2 degrees per decade. By the end of the twenty-first century, it will be by 1.8 to 4.6 degrees. The difference in these data is a result of applying a set of models that predict the future climate and considering different scenarios for the world economy and society. According to scientists, the changes observed in climate are associated with such human activities as the burning of fossil carbon fuels (oil, gas, coal, and others), industrial processes, and deforestation, which cause natural sinks of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Effects of Climate Change
Climate change is a real concern due to the following possible effects:
- The change in the frequency and intensity of rainfall. The climate on the planet will become more humid. However, rainfall is not evenly spread on the Earth. In the regions that receive enough rainfall today, losses will be more intense. Dry periods will rise in zones with inadequate moisture.
- Sea level rise. In the twentieth century, the average sea level rose by 0.1 - 0.2 m. Scientists forecast that it increase up to 1 m in the twenty-first century. In this case, coastal areas and small islands may be in danger. Such countries as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, as well as small island states in the regions of Oceania and the Caribbean, may fall under the risk of flooding. Besides, coastal erosion will increase.
- A threat to ecosystems and biodiversity. There are predictions of the extinction of 30 - 40% of plant and animal species, as their habitat is changing faster than they can adapt to these changes.
- The melting of glaciers. Scientists consider modern glaciation as one of the most sensitive indicators of current global changes. The accelerated melting of glaciers poses a number of immediate threats to human development. Avalanches, flooding, or, conversely, a decrease in deep rivers, and consequently, a reduction in fresh water are particularly dangerous for densely populated mountain and foothill areas.
- Warming impacts on agricultural productivity are ambiguous. In some temperate regions, yields may increase due to a small rise in temperature, but will decrease in the event of significant changes. The most serious hit will face the poorest countries, which are the least prepared to adapt to climate change.
- The lack of water supply. One of the consequences of climate change can be a shortage of drinking water. In regions with a dry climate (Central Asia, the Mediterranean zone, South Africa, Australia, and others), the situation is even worse due to reductions in rainfall. The melting of glaciers has substantially reduced runoff in such major Asian waterways as Brahmaputra, Ganges, Yellow, Indus, Mekong, Salween and the Yangtze River. The lack of fresh water will affect not only the health and development of agriculture, but also increase the risk of political differences and conflicts caused by the access to water resources.
- Climate change can increase risks to the health of people, especially of the poor. Thus, a reduction in food production will inevitably lead to malnutrition and starvation. Abnormally high temperatures can lead to the exacerbation of cardiovascular, respiratory and other diseases. An increase in the average temperature can lead to a change in the geographical distribution of various species that are disease vectors. Many heat-loving animals and insects (for example, encephalitis ticks and mosquitoes) will move to the north, where people living in these areas are not immune to new diseases.
According to environmentalists, the humanity cannot prevent climate change. However, people can mitigate it and keep pace with the rise in temperature in order to avoid dangerous and irreversible consequences in the future. It can be done through taking the following measures:
- Controlling and reducing the consumption of fossil carbon fuels (coal, oil, and gas).
- Improving energy efficiency.
- Implementing energy conservation measures.
- Increasing the use of non-carbon and renewable energy sources.
- Developing new environmentally friendly and low-carbon technologies.
- Preventing deforestation and restoring forests, due to they are natural absorbents of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Mission to Mars
A manned mission to Mars has recently raised many disputes. With this in mind, the humanity proceeds from the practice of long-haul flights around the Earth, not particularly feeling the difference. However, any such flight does not only depend on the reliability of equipment and the coordination of the team, but is largely determined by the psychological readiness of the crew to work in a confined space immersed in a dangerous environment for a long time. The belief in one’s own strength, psychological stability in long-term isolation from the outside world and the ability to adequately respond to critical and emergency situations are of particular importance despite a high degree of risks.
Therefore, the preparation for a manned flight into the depths of space must meet the following requirements. If there is a critical situation, crewmembers should operate pursuant to strict instructions, sequence diagrams, prepared on the Earth. During a flight at a distance of millions of miles, a possible guide of actions provided from the Earth to the crew may be unavailable. With a larger time interval, for the crew being on the flight path to Mars, the Earth becomes the same space object as the latter planet. People participating in a manned mission will become no longer subject to political conflicts or natural disasters on the Earth. During an expedition, the connection to the planet may be lost. From this angle, if the flight to Mars is successful, the probability of disasters on the Earth will not pose threats to people. Such a mission will surely boost shipbuilding space, amenities of life and safety of the crew in completely different situations.
Thus, the pros of a flight to Mars are that it will burn public interest in space exploration and will provide more activities to the space industry. Its cons are that it is cheaper to obtain scientific information by machines, people do not have any experience in exploring space without Earth support, and a gap exists between the technical level of the development of today’s civilization and the spiritual world.
Besides, there are serious doubts, that the flight to Mars will bring something new. It is evident by the experience of visiting the Moon. Machines work on Mars and successfully transmit scientific information in the amount that is sufficient to reveal subtle components to atmospheric science. It is hard to imagine that a man can compete with them.
Choice of an Energy Source
The Earth atmosphere prevents people from obtaining and using clean solar energy on the surface of the planet. The following solution arises, namely to place a solar power plant in space near the Earth orbit. There will be no atmospheric interference; weightlessness will create many kilometers of structures that are necessary to “harvest” the energy of the sun. Such plants have a great advantage. The conversion of one form of energy into another is inevitably accompanied by heat. It is possible to prevent dangerous overheating of the Earth atmosphere with the help of dumping energy into space. The path from the receiver of electromagnetic energy radiation from the Sun to the outlet in the house or the machine power supply may be different. In practice, it can require a solar plane on a solid frame with the length of many kilometers, grid antenna transmitters, and similar to them giant receivers on the ground. As it has soon become clear, such option is not perfect. Engineers have tried to use solar panels. The resulting energy is more suitable to be used in space without the necessity of being sent back to the Earth. Production facilities use about 90% of the produced energy on the planet. The main customers are metallurgy, machine-building, and the chemical industry. They are also the major polluters. The humanity cannot live without all these production units. However, people can remove them from the Earth. Why not to use raw materials extracted from the Moon or asteroids, creating satellites and relevant databases? The problem is the very complex construction of a space solar power plant. Windmills, dam hydropower and other clean power plants are enough to produce the electricity for households. Any draft of a space solar power plant suggests that this is a colossal construction, involving many elements. The collected fragments of a space solar power station must be on a high orbit. Moreover, a flight to its working section will be possible due to electric rocket thrusters. Nevertheless, the Sun is not the only source of cosmic energy that is available to humans. Other celestial bodies have energy, which is many times greater than the existing one on the Earth. For example, in the surface layers of the lunar soil, reserves of Helium-3 are found, which are absent on the surface of this planet. Scientists assume that it is easier to get energy from the fusion of these isotopes than of others. Meanwhile, a few pounds of Helium-3 will cover the annual energy needs of people.
Concern Raised by Climate Change
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Last summer was a critical period for Europe. The temperature rose to such a high point that persons could not get outside during a daytime. This heat wave affected the health of many people. Almost every third inhabitant of Europe experienced frequent headaches, seizures, and the lack of fresh air. In the recent years, winters also differ from those that have been twenty or thirty years ago. Severe frosts negatively affect the physical, psychological and moral state of all people. Unfortunately, they rarely think about the effect of climate change on their health. Many people still have bad habits, and cannot get rid of those in practice. Therefore, the majority of countries have the following statistics that shows the number of people with such ailments as allergies, asthma, and infectious diseases of all kinds. The reason for such a large number of patients is the lack of information about the influence of climate change on health. It leads to serious consequences. Special TV and radio programs, which can convey necessary information to people are almost not made. The coverage of such important issues as the impact of climate change is paid the least attention among general problems. To protect health, a man just needs to stick to such rules as to give up all bad habits, eat properly and well, do sports and spend more time in the fresh air, calmly respond to different situations (to protect the nervous system), self-monitor information on climate change, and listen to advices of professionals. It is evident that climate change has a profound impact on human health.
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