By Humaira Taz
Yes, you saw it right. That “o” instead of the “a” in the title is not a typo. Just like worms in your computer replicate themselves to other computers in the network, thus widening its domain, global warming has also become a phenomenon that seems to have grown out of control during the past few years. We are all aware of it and its harmful effects. What many of us are not aware of, however, is the pace at which the global environmental conditions are degrading.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already reached a level that was not expected until the last decade. before a decade. Due to the rapid economic growth in countries like China and India, the carbon dioxide emission increased from 1% per year to 3.5% since 2000, a time when it was expected to decrease. Third world countries are speculated to contribute more to carbon dioxide emission because of they lack efficient machinery technology that allow fewer pollutants to be released in the air. In addition, the undergoing massive deforestation in countries, like Africa and South East Asia, to meet demand for farmland, habitation, and factories has resulted in an imbalance in the ecosystem. It is quite ironic that as more and more carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere, we are eliminating the only method by which this gas can be removed.
A more alarming fact is the melting of permafrost in Siberia and Alaska. The world’s largest peat bogs found in Alaska have remained frozen for almost 11,000 years. In the past three or four years, due to the increase in the local temperature by 3°Celsius, the permafrost has started to thaw. Since billions of tons of methane are stored in these peat bogs, their release would mean a drastic rise in the greenhouse gas emissions¬- more than all the emissions in a century from fossil fuels. The west Siberian bog contains 70 billion tons of methane, which is equivalent to 1.7 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, more than the greenhouse gas emitted by humans in the past 200 years. Just thinking about what would happen when this permafrost would melt gives me goose bumps! The temperature rise has also added to the phenomenon of faster thinning of the Arctic ice. Scientists at the World Glacier Monitoring Service, based at the University of Zurich in Switzerland reported that about 30 glaciers are melting fast /at an alarming rate. Moreover, the perennial ice, that is as hard as nail, has decreased from 60% coverage to only 6% coverage, according to Walter Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. This indicates an increased threat of floods and a decrease in water supplies in many regions.
The consequences of the aforementioned phenomena are visible. There have been an increased number of droughts, hurricanes, tsunamis and floods in the last few years. It has even been forecasted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that by 2100, sea levels would have risen by 18 to 59 cm, which means many low level regions would be underwater. This somehow reminds me of the animated movie Ice Age: the Meltdown – just saying!