Tough Questions, Easy Answers
1. What is global warming? : A series of small but consistent increases in atmospheric and ocean temperatures over the past century. Every time the human cuts down a tree or drives a gas-burning car, he contributes to global warming.
2. What is climate change? : Climate change is the effect of global warming on weather. As wind and water gets warmer, the earth’s climate cycles will change dramatically, leading to shifts in agricultural production and water supply.
3. How much temperature will rise in future? : Anywhere from 1.1 to 1.4 degrees Celsius.
4. Why do such small temperature rises matter? : As earth temperature rises, evaporation goes up, leading to more pronounced dry spells. At the same time all the moisture in the air collects over the oceans, and when these clouds finally roll over land, they release torrential and sudden rains.
5. What causes global warming? : Greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere like the blanket, trapping heat waves radiating off the earth. These heat waves feed back into the air, land and sea, changing weather patterns.
6. How many greenhouse gases exist? : Dozens. The most prevalent are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. A fourth group, fluorinated gases, are released by air conditioners and refrigerators.
7. Don’t greenhouse gases have natural causes too? : Yes. Small amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are emitted by natural processes such as decomposition.
8. What is greenhouse effect? : Solar energy : The sun’s rays pass through earth’s atmosphere; much of this energy is absorbed by the surface and atmosphere. Reflected energy : Some of the sun’s radiation is reflected back towards space. Trapped Warmth : Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere prevent the reflection of some of that radiation back into the space. The thicker the greenhouse gases cover, the higher the solar energy trapped, causing greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases: Carbon dioxide (Co2), Methane, Nitrous oxide.
9. Hasn’t there been global warming in the past? : The earth goes through cold and warm periods, but the sudden increase in carbon dioxide levels over the past 200 years due to industrialization. Scientists have found there is more Co2 in today’s atmosphere than at any point in the past 650,000 years.
10. Exactly how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere now? : 379 parts per million, an increase of 103 ppm over pre-industrial times. 450ppm is the maximum the atmosphere can take for sustainable living.
11. Who is responsible for climate change? : Rich countries are responsible for 72% of the total greenhouse gas emissions between 1950 and 2000. Thanks to rapid industrialization, India is now the fourth largest emitter. Top 5 countries responsible for Carbon emissions are: U.S., China, Russia, India and Japan.
12. What climate change can we expect to see? : More extreme weather events like cyclones, hurricanes and droughts, Warmer nights and winters, as well as unpredictable monsoon.
13. What effect of global warming have on food supply? : India’s agricultural production could go down 30% by 2030 due to changes in monsoon and sowing season.
14. What effect will global warming have on the rest of the world? : Countries like Russia and Canada will have more farmland. Small island nations like Maldives will loose land area as sea levels rise.
15. Can we stop climate change? : No, the process has already begun. Current policy focuses on limiting the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted, and on adapting to the effects we will see.
16. What is the Kyoto Protocol? : The Kyoto Protocol, signed in Japan in 1997, laid out emission targets for rich countries and required that they transfer funds and technology to developing countries, 184 countries have ratified it.
17. Did Kyoto work? : Except for Germany and United Kingdom, no other rich country has reduced emissions. Most countries emissions have gone up.
18. Why do rich countries want to end Kyoto? : They believe that some developing economies, which have become large emitters in their own right, should also commit to emission cuts.
19. Why doesn’t India want to end Kyoto? : India wants polluting rich nations to pay for its green development.
20. What is the technology transfer? : Under Kyoto rules, developing countries earn carbon credits by adopting carbon-neutral technologies. Rich countries buy the credits. The system is known as the Clean Development Mechanism.
21. What is carbon credit? : A carbon credit is equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere.