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The Impact of Global Warning & Climate Change on Water Scarcity and Energy in UK

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  • Paper Type: Case Study
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1. Background

The radiation emitted by the sun is short-wave radiation and our atmosphere is transparent to this radiation. Some of these radiations are absorbed by the surface of the earth, and some are reflected back to outer space. The earth's surface acts as a black body. It absorbs the short-wave radiation and when gets heated, it starts emitting that radiation in the form of long-wave radiation. The greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, CFC, etc., absorb long-wave radiation and trap heat in Earth's atmosphere, which causes the temperature of the atmosphere to rise. The heating of the atmosphere has a direct proportional relationship with the amount of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere. Our atmosphere is actually heated from below.
In the last half-century, the level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has dramatically increased by more than two-fifths, which ultimately enhanced the absorption of long-wave radiation emitted from the earth's surface. Therefore our only available atmosphere is warming up at the highest rate ever. In this Environmental Study, we are going to throw some light on the various factors and their respective impacts on the environment.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main actor among other greenhouse gases. Human activities are greatly responsible for the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. They emit CO2 when they burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. Fossil fuel is burnt for the generation of electricity, transport, and heat. Another very dangerous activity, the burning of trees results in the emission of CO2 when we clear land for farming.

Another important factor of the greenhouse gases is nitrogen oxide (N2O). It is mostly produced by the use of artificial fertilizers in farming. Methane (CH4) is produced by rotten waste and farm animals and it is also the main ingredient of natural gas so may be emitted by the oil and gas industries. The other element of greenhouse gases is fluorinated gas which is used in fridges and air conditioners.

Greenhouse gases are also produced by natural processes such as, CO2 is emitted by the soil, volcanoes, and wildfires but scientists are in doubt that the frequency of naturally occurring greenhouse gases increasing because of human activities.

2. Introduction

Now it is no longer the natural world we are living in. We have changed every part of the Earth's environment. In turn, the atmosphere is behaving in abnormal way too. The impact of global warming is already happening in Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North & South America, the Polar region, and small islands. The major areas where global warming has pronounced effects are water and energy. The scarcity of water is increasing at the highest rate ever and the problem of energy crises also gripping the states on every continent. The unprecedented anthropogenic activities have transformed the whole paradigm of human needs which leads us to un-noticed and non-recoverable destruction.

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3. Objectives of the Study

There are two main objectives of this study. The first is to identify a rational plan of action that would help in dealing with the water scarcity issue in the UK as the drought already poses a substantial threat to the UK's agriculture, infrastructure, and social cultures. The second is to identify new policy options to mitigate the risks of large-scale power cuts in the United Kingdom as the growing demands for fuel from China and India may diminish the UK's ability to access gas and oil at affordable prices.


The key areas are highlighted with the following policy questions:

  • What is the extent of water scarcity in Europe at present and was it there two decades back?
  • How successful is the existing water management policy in the UK?
  • How much dependency does the UK have on the fossil fuel to meet its current energy requirement?
  • The changes occurred in international policy on using fossil fuel for energy generation and transportation in the last 2 decades.

 

4. Literature Review

In 1992, almost every country in the world signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (IPCC). Since then, countries have met every year, to discuss action on climate change.

The Fourth Assessment Report Working Group I (WG1) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007a) has concluded that ‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal', and that ‘discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes, and wind patterns'. The broad range of impacts of climate change (IPCC, 2007b) includes effects on agriculture, fisheries, desertification, biodiversity, water resources, heat and cold-related mortality, coastal zones, and floods. These are increasingly linked with significant economic damages, and consideration of these costs is increasingly helping to inform the policy debate (Stern Review, 2006).

All countries have committed to launching a new climate agreement in Paris at the end of 2015. A Paris Agreement would set climate action beyond 2020, either for 2025 or 2030. Countries set up the Green Climate Fund in 2009, to transfer green public funds for tackling climate change from developed to developing countries. A significant portion of the $100 billion that developed countries have committed in 2020 will be channeled through the Green Climate Fund.

5. SWOT Analysis

A) Strength

The impact of limited climate change in countries located in higher latitudes can be very positive, as the average temperature in these countries remains below 5 degrees Celsius. Global warming may bring the temperature of these countries to a normal value, which may enable the land to be used for agriculture and a milder winter may reduce cold-weather deaths. The crop may grow faster as the duration and intensity of the photosynthesis process increase because carbon dioxide is a vital ingredient in the process of photosynthesis, which plants use to grow. Global warming may help in melting the Arctic ice and allow the ships to pass through the Northwest Passage, which will prove a great shortcut between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Moreover, the chances of fishing will also be enhanced and the Greenland economy will improve for sure.

B) Weaknesses

There are large numbers of weaknesses associated with global warming; the most important are explained below:

  • The human water supply will decrease
  • Increase in the fire frequency in the forests
  • The agriculture of tropical and subtropical regions will be seriously damaged as the nighttime temperature will remain high.
  • The death rate may also increase because of severe and prolonged heat waves. The mosquito-borne diseases have already increased in subtropical regions, such as Malaria and Dengue Fever.

Catastrophic Natural disasters worldwide.Figure 1. Catastrophic Natural Disasters World-Wide

  • The number of catastrophic natural disasters will increase worldwide, as depicted in the above graph
  • The arctic animal population will decrease or may vanish completely due to high temperatures.
  • The warming causes the release of methane gas from the Arctic region, which will contribute to greenhouse warming.
  • The intense photosynthesis process in tropical and subtropical regions will damage the crops
  • The acidification of the ocean will damage the marine ecosystems
  • There will be severe consequences for at least 60 million people dependent on ice melt for water supply
  • People living in low-latitude countries may face poor economic condition
  • The cost of damage to public infrastructure will be in the billions
  • The risk of civil war may increase in African countries
  • Millions of people may be displaced within countries due to coastal erosions

 

C) Opportunities

The opportunities associated with Global Warming are not very large in numbers but it does exist. Christopher B. Field, the co-chair of IPCC said “Climate change can not only help us to deal with Climate change but ultimately build a better world”. According to the government report Climate change brings great opportunity for UK businessmen as it and countries around the world are increasingly hit by extreme weather. The developed countries exploit the high-temperature conditions introduce innovations using new technologies and come up with amazing solutions. Natural disasters, like the flooding in 2011 in Thailand, are enabling the country to develop a strong management system as Thailand developed its flood and water management. Business opportunities like this are always associated with such events.

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D) Threats

There are large numbers of threats associated with Global warming some of the important ones are listed below

  • The irregular weather patterns are now considered normal because it has already started in the last decade. More intense and devastating weather events will be associated with future weather events.
  • Plants may die and animals may migrate to other areas with the shift in the balance of the environment
  • It may be severe flooding or severe drought conditions in the same country as it is already happening in Africa and Asia
  • The complete forests may disappear because of the natural fire caused due to heat waves and continuous drought condition
  • The human health will be at high risk as they are exposed to diseases
  • The increase in rainfall will bring mosquito-related diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever
  • The intensity of hurricanes and other storms will also increase with the increase in ocean temperature
  • The Sea level will rise due to a large number of polar ice melting
  • The coastal areas will always be at greatest risk
  • It will be very difficult for the plants to survive in high-temperature regions
  • The shortage of food may lead to a law and order situation in the country
  • The unexpected streak of severe heat may start frequently damage humans, animals, and plants
  • More deaths will occur due to heat stroke events
  • More frequent Wildfire may double the effect of greenhouse gases
  • Severe precipitation may cause frequent flash flooding events in the country
  • More powerful hurricanes and summer storms may develop
  • The duration of the season will become unpredictable it will be a longer/shorter season year after another

Views on Global Warming- Environmental AssignmentsFigure 2.Views on Global Warming

  • The most significant impact will be on crops. Very few crops will survive in the high-temperature condition which will cause the food processing industry insane
  • The economy of the countries will be greatly affected
  • The coral reef is going to be affected which will, in turn, affect the entire ecosystem
  • The entire food chain could be disrupted and enormous consequences could follow
  • The pure air would not be available to breathe and high amount of carbon dioxide would cause the emergence of anonymous diseases
  • The impact of Global Warming will first be felt in the Animals
  • The quality of life will no longer be there as the heat wave or severe precipitation will not allow us to enjoy the moderate weather which we generally take for granted
  • Storms, floods, earth quacks, wildfires, and other natural disasters would diminish half of the earth's population
  • The freshwater supply will greatly diminish with Global warming

6. Government Need to Take Step

There are some very important steps every government needs to take to mitigate the situation developing because of Global warming.

a) Fossil Fuel Burning

The use of fossil fuels in generating energy, running industries, transportation, and agricultural machinery needs to be cut off to a minimum. The use of the latest technology can help in lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Hybrid cars are a good addition to the transportation industries and they need to be made available to the general public. Hydraulic dams should be used for electricity generation. The power generation companies running on coal, petrol or gases need to be shifted to electricity which is made from hydraulic or other alternative energy sources.

b) Energy Mix

Instead of completely relying on one source like coal or oil other sources also need to be utilized like solar plants, and wind mills can positively contribute to the present situation. The use of the latest technology in generating energy from solar panels should be made the center of attention.

c) Decisions on Qualitative and Quantitative Data

The meteorological offices nowadays have a large number of automated recorded data sensors which can provide detailed statistical data about the past and a number of computer software are available to extrapolate that data and analyze the expected situation in the future. The quantitative data may serve the purpose better. The Global Forecasting Models performances are very much reliable nowadays and hundreds of models are run multiple times on a daily basis to produce forecasts.

d) Contributing parties to the research

Professional meteorologists, students, professors or universities, and officers of national disaster management cells are the people who are directly involved in daily weather monitoring, research, or observations. They can contribute very well to the existing situation and may greatly help in devising the policy for the future.

Summary

The national government has huge powers to cut the carbon emissions. They set the national laws, standards, and guidelines that drive decisions by local government, businesses, and citizens. The anthropogenic activities of humans are the great responsible for polluting the Earth's environment. The lifestyle of each individual also contributes to global warming. The shift towards artificial culture is another great challenge that needs to be overcome. The burning of fossil fuel needs to be restricted to its minimum and plantation should be enhanced worldwide.

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References

  • http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3015e/i3015e.pdf
  • https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/public/Research/Energy,%20Environment%20and%20Development/1211pr_lahn_stevens.pdf
  • http://www.superior.edu.pk/Images/Research/6.pdf
  • http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/GlobalWarmingEffects.php
  • https://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/wp-content/themes/sustainability/assets/pdf/whitepapers/2011_Brown_Matlock_Water-Availability-Assessment-Indices-and-Methodologies-Lit-Review.pdf
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