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Policy Area

I. Global Warming
II. Greenhouse Effect
III. Kyoto Protocol
IV. Links
V. References



I. Global Warming

Global warming has been a crucial subject to the entire world. Every country in the world knows that global warming is a serious problem to the earth. However, for several reasons; mostly economic reasons, they don’t want to be protectors of the environment.

" A “planetary emergency—a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth”—that is how former Vice President Al Gore describes global warming. Most environmental groups preach the same message. So do many journalists. So do some scientists. " 1

  1. What is Global Warming?


  2. " The term "global warming" refers to the warming in recent decades and its projected continuation, and implies a human influence. " 2

    " The phrase global warming refers to the documented historical warming of the Earth's surface based upon worldwide temperature records that have been maintained by humans since the 1880s. The term global warming is often used synonymously with the term climate change, but the two terms have distinct meanings. " 3


  3. Temperature changed?
  4. We can see whether the temperature changed with some graphs easily. Those graphs show that the temperature rised rapidly since 1890's.

    Global temperature change

    United States temperature change
    (Source: http://www.noaa.gov/)

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II. Greenhouse Effect

One of the major reasons of global warming is the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases due to human activity. Many scientists argue that most of warming occurred since the start of the industrial era.

  1. Definition
  2. " Greenhouse gases effectively absorb thermal infrared radiation, emitted by the Earth’s surface, by the atmosphere itself due to the same gases, and by clouds. Atmospheric radiation is emitted to all sides, including downward to the Earth’s surface. Thus greenhouse gases trap heat within the surface-troposphere system. This is called the greenhouse effect. " 4

    This picture describe the mechanism of greenhouse effect.

    Greenhouse_Effect
    (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect)



  3. Greenhouse gases
    • Carbon Dioxide

    • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless non-flammable gas and is the most prominent Greenhouse gas in Earth's atmosphere. It is recycled through the atmosphere by the process photosynthesis, which makes human life possible. Photosynthesis is the process of green plants and other organisms transforming light energy into chemical energy. Light Energy is trapped and used to convert carbon dioxide, water, and other minerals into oxygen and energy rich organic compounds. (Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume 25) Carbon Dioxide is emitted into the air as humans exhale, burn fossil fuels for energy, and deforest the planet. Every year humans add over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by these processes, and it is up thirty percent since 1750 (www.envirolink.org/orgs/edf/sitemap.html). An isolated test at Mauna Loa in Hawaii revealed more than a 12% (316 ppm in 1959 to 360 ppm in 1996) increase in mean annual concentration of carbon dioxide. Mauna Loa, located in Hawaii, is the worlds largest volcano at 40,000 cubic km and 4,170 meters above sea level. (Encyclopedia Britannica Volume 27).

    • Methan

    • Methane is a colorless, odorless, flammable gas. It is formed when plants decay and where there is very little air. It is often called swamp gas because it is abundant around water and swamps. Bacteria that breakdown organic matter in wetlands and bacteria that are found in cows, sheep, goats, buffalo, termites, and camels produce methane naturally. Since 1750, methane has doubled, and could double again by 2050. Each year we add 350-500 million tons of methane to the air by raising livestock, coal mining, drilling for oil and natural gas, rice cultivation, and garbage sitting in landfills.(www.envirolink.org/orgs/edf/sitemap.html) It stays in the atmosphere for only 10 years, but traps 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide.

    • Nitrous Oxide

    • Nitrous oxide is another colorless greenhouse gas, however, it has a sweet odor. It is primarily used as an anesthetic because it deadens pain and for this characteristic is called laughing gas. This gas is released naturally from oceans and by bacteria in soils. Nitrous oxide gas risen by more than 15% since 1750. Each year we add 7-13 million tons into the atmosphere by using nitrogen based fertilizers, disposing of human and animal waste in sewage treatment plants, automobile exhaust, and other sources not yet identified. It is important to reduce emissions because the nitrous oxide we release today will still be trapped in the atmosphere 100 years from now. 5

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III. Kyoto Protocol

Tyoto Protocol in the most well-known international agreement on global greenhouse gas emissions.


  1. An Overview
  2. " The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the international Framework Convention on Climate Change with the objective of reducing greenhouse gases in an effort to prevent anthropogenic climate change. It was adopted for use on 11 December 1997 by the 3rd Conference of the Parties, which was meeting in Kyoto,and it entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of May 2008, 182 parties have ratified the protocol. Of these, 36 developed C.G. countries (plus the EU as a party in its own right) are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the levels specified for each of them in the treaty. The United States is the only developed country that has not ratified the treaty and is one of the significant greenhouse gas emitters. " 6


  3. Stakeholders
    • Pros : Lower the temperature rise

    • "Advocates of the Kyoto Protocol state that reducing emissions is crucially important, as carbon dioxide is causing the earth’s atmosphere to heat up. This is supported by the ‘attribution analysis’. No country has passed national legislation requiring compliance with their treaty obligation. The governments of all of the countries whose parliaments have ratified the protocol are supporting it. Most prominent among advocates of Kyoto have been the EU and many environmentalist organisations. The UN and some individual nations’ scientific advisory bodies (including the G8 National Science Academies) have also issued reports favouring the Kyoto Protocol. " 7

    • Cons : Equity

    • "Some public policy experts who are skeptical of global warming see Kyoto as a scheme to either slow the growth of the world’s industrial democracies or to transfer wealth to the Third World in what they claim is a global socialism initiative. Others argue the protocol does not go far enough to curb greenhouse emissions; for example, countries such as Niue, The Cook Islands and Nauru added notes to this effect when signing the protocol. " 8

      However, Shristoph Bohringer and Carsten Vogt(2003)9 showes that Kyoto protocol more or less boils down to business-as-usual without significant compliance costs to ratifying parties. This tells me that Koyto protocol can be a just symbolic policy.

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IV. Links

Wikipedia - It is the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. There are 2,549,715 articles in English.

The Encyclopedia of Earth - This cite is electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society. The articles are written in non-technical language and will be useful to students, educators, scholars, professionals, as well as to the general public.

Global Warming International Center(GWIC) - The Global Warming International Center (GWIC) is the international body disseminating information on global warming science and policy, serving both governamental, non-governamental organizations, and industries in more than 145 countries.

GlobalWarming.org - This cite focuses on dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis.

National Resources Defence Council - NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.2 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.

We Can Solve The Climate Crisis - The We Campaign is a project of The Alliance for Climate Protection - a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort founded by Nobel laureate and former Vice President Al Gore. The goal of the Alliance is to build a movement that creates the political will to solve the climate crisis.

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V. References

1GlobalWarming.org. Has Pawlenty Turned the Corner?. <http://www.globalwarming.org/>. Accessed Sept. 9, 2008.

2Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Global Warming. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming>. Accessed Sept. 9, 2008.

3The Encyclopedia of Earch. Article. Global Warming. <http://www.eoearth.org/article/Global_warming>. Accessed Sept. 10, 2008.

4Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Greenhouse Effect. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect>. Accessed Sept. 10, 2008.

5University of Michigan. Earth and Society. <http://www.umich.edu/~gs265/society/greenhouse.htm>. Accessed Sept. 9, 2008.

6Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Kyoto Protocol. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol#Support>. Accessed Sept. 10, 2008.

7Copperwiki. Kyoto Protocol. <http://www.copperwiki.org/index.php/Kyoto_Protocol#In_favor_of_Kyoto_protocol>. Accessed Sept. 9, 2008.

8Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Kyoto Protocol. Opposition <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_protocol#Opposition>. Accessed Sept. 10, 2008.

9The Canadian Journal of Economics, Economic and Environmental Impacts of the Kyoto Protocol, at 475-494 (2003). (For the pdf file, Click Here)

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