Global warming is the process of increase of average temperatures all over the planet that has been occurring starting from the mid twentieth century. The alarming IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report states that 100% of the responsibility for global warming lies on the humans (Nuccitelli, 2013). Most of the blame is on the emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere caused by fossil fuels burning. Other human activities are to blame as well. But among the causes of global warming there are no natural ones. The repercussions of this process are significant, including drastic climate change, the rise of sea levels, arctic ice melting, changes of ecological systems, extinction of many species, etc. While at present among scientists there is no longer any disagreement regarding the existence of global warming and about the fact that it is caused solely by human activity, no such unanimity is present as for what actions should be taken to deal with it. The existing points of view on this issue can be separated into two main categories: those favouring the strategy of prevention and those believing in adaptation as the best solution.
Preventing global warming is mainly related to significantly decreasing the emissions of the greenhouse gases. A number of actions can be taken to achieve this goal. They include, on the one hand, increased use of renewable energy, for instance, the wind power or the solar energy, and nuclear energy, increased energy efficiency, in other words, reducing the consumption of energy needed for goods and services production, for instance, better insulation of houses and using fluorescent electric bulbs. On the other hand, they involve increased use of carbon sinks, that is, reservoirs, whether natural or human-made, that will store the green-house gasses retrieved from the atmosphere. An example of a natural carbon sink is forests, so diminishing deforestation and increasing reforestation can serve the purpose (IPCC, N.D.). The main drawbacks of the prevention strategies are related to the fact that their full realization will take a long time during which the greenhouse gasses will continue accumulating in the atmosphere increasing the detrimental effects of global warming on the environment. Besides, in the near term perspective, switching to alternative energy sources is likely to greatly harm global economy. Significant slowness of implementing the necessary changes is a major problem, as well. In order for the strategy to succeed, changes should be made both on governmental and on personal levels. And no immediate results can be expected, which lessens people’s motivation. Lack of international unanimity as well as lack of motivation and awareness on personal level, lack of necessary policies, lack of understanding of certain environmental processes and phenomena are among current problems hindering global warming prevention. On the positive side, preventing global warming rather than trying to adapt to it is a much more reasonable way of action in terms of long-term effects. All the methods of prevention are very promising. They aim at preserving the environment, which is important. For instance, no adaptation can protect habitats and species in danger of extinction.
The other major approach to the problem of global warming is adaptation. Its proponents believe in trying to adapt the society to the changing climatic conditions rather than trying to prevent the changes. According to them, programs aimed at reducing green-house gasses emissions are not justified from the point of view of cost benefit relation. Implementing these programs at any cost is not necessarily reasonable if it harms the levels of production of energy or harms the economy in general. Adapting to the climate changes might be both more cost-efficient and yield better results. The argument for such a strategy instead of trying to reduce greenhouse gasses emissions is that in order to adapt to global warming as efficiently as possible there must be stable economy. The richer the country is, the easier it will be to adapt (Keller, N.D.). Others argue that to deal with the rise of the level of the sea it is not necessary to readjust the whole economical system (“how dangerous is global warming, N.D.). However, this argument does not hold, as global warming threats are much more than just the rise of the sea level. While it might be possible to adapt to certain effects of climate changing, it will hardly be realistic to expect adaptation to all of them. As a matter of fact, it is believed that adaptation alone will not suffice to fight off the effects of global warming. Besides, as it is the case with prevention strategy, at present there is no clear idea regarding the cost of implementing the adaptation strategy or regarding the problems it may involve (IPCC, N.D.).
In my opinion, the prevention strategy is a much more efficient way of action. I believe so mainly because it is aimed at preserving the eco-system the way it is. I am sure we bear responsibility towards our planet and it’s our duty to compensate for the damage we’ve caused the best we can. Besides, this strategy looks farther in the future. However, it doesn’t mean that the adaptation strategy should be completely rejected. I think combining the two and using the advantages of each of them to the fullest is the best way of action to be taken. Still, my firm believe is that the main emphasis should be made on the prevention strategy as the most effective one.
- “How dangerous is global warming”, Los Angeles Times, 17 June 2001.
- Keller, M. “world to celebrate Kyoto protocol start”, The Stanford Daily, 15 Feb. 2005
- Nuccitelli, D. “global warming: why is the IPCC report so certain about the influence of humans?”, The Guardian, Sep. 27, 2013.
- IPCC “Synthesis report summary for policy makers. Section 4: adaptation and mitigation options”, IPCC AR4 SYR 2007