global warming and sea level change

            Our planet is on a constant change. Every now and then we hear of new developments, new discoveries and a lot more. The information that we once knew may not be acceptable today, the places that we once visited as a child may be different after a very short period of time. Together with this constant development is the increase in number of industrial factories that emits harmful chemical substances to our environment.

            Over the passed years different problems pertaining to our environment have been discovered of which, majority are of anthropogenic sources and among these threats is global warming. Through the years we have heard much about global warming and its possible effects to living things including us, humans but the problem is only a few understands the whole situation. According to scientists and experts, global warming is the increase in earth’s temperature due to the increase in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

How does these increase in greenhouse gasses affects the temperature of the earth? According to the report given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2001), a body established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programs (UNEP), global warming happens when:

“Increases in the concentrations of greenhouse gases will reduce the efficiency with which the Earth’s surface radiates to space. More of the outgoing terrestrial radiation from the surface is absorbed by the atmosphere and re-emitted at higher altitudes and lower temperatures. This results in a positive radiative forcing that tends to warm the lower atmosphere and surface. Because less heat escapes to space, this is the enhanced greenhouse effect – an enhancement of an effect that has operated in the Earth’s atmosphere for billions of years due to the presence of naturally occurring greenhouse gases: water vapour, carbon dioxide, ozone, methane and nitrous oxide”.

Here, the IPCC is pointing out that the increase in greenhouse gasses reduces the capability of the earth to emit heat to outer space. When this happens the heat is piled up in the atmosphere which is now the cause of the earth’s increasing temperature.

            Through time, scientists found out that the earth’s surface temperature has increased to a certain level which is alarming. It has been recorded that over the past century, the earth’s temperature has increased to about 0.60 Celsius (IPCC, 2001).  And in relation to the increase in the earth’s temperature is the change in sea level. It has been believed that because of global warming, the sea level would rise due to the melting of ice. According to Alley, Clark, Huybrechts and Joughin (2005), future sea-level rise is an important issue related to the continuing buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. They further emphasized that the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic has the potentials to raise the sea level up to 70 meters if it is completely melted.

            With the increasing population and industries popping out everywhere, the possibility of a global catastrophe such as global warming is not impossible. Several computer programs have been run to predict and model the possible outcome of global warming and majority, if not all, of the results is clearly pointing to the possibility of a sea level rise in the future. It has been predicted that the increasing temperature of earth would cause ice caps to melt and the sea level to rise (“Global and Warming”, n.d.). With this, many scientists were alarm since majority of the world’s population is found in coastal areas and small amounts of sea level rise could have  substantial societal and economic impacts through coastal erosion, increased susceptibility to storm surges, groundwater contamination by salt intrusion, and other effects (Alley et al., 2005).

            The increasing knowledge about global warming has been a major accomplishment of the century but in spite of all these, there are still people who do not believe that the warming of the earth’s temperature is alarming. There are those who believe that the recent increase in the earth’s temperature is no cause for alarm (“Global Warming”, n.d.).

            For the non-believers of global warming, they believe that global warming is just part of the earth’s warming and cooling cycles. They agree that the earth’s climate and the biosphere have been in constant change and that the warm periods we are experiencing right now is called interglacial periods, which appears to last approximately 15,000 to 20,000 years before it will go back to ice ages. They also argue that the warming of the earth has already begun even before man has made any invention that would emit greenhouse gasses (Hieb and Hieb 2006).

            In addition it was stated by Christy (1997) in her testimony that, “while the development of models is critical to our future ability to examine what we may be doing to alter the climate of the Earth, many scientists acknowledge that models are still rather simple representations of the complex processes that control the Earth’s climate”. At this point, Christy is stressing that our planet is very complex and complicated that we need to have a deeper understanding of it and should not readily rely on models that are being made.

            Putting everything into context, global warming and sea level rise is a very complicated issue that even scientists don’t agree about. The exact cause of this phenomenon is still to be unsolved. Only time could tell us what’s the really the core of this heating up of the earth, whether it is affected by human activities or occurring naturally. As for now, prevention is better that cure. We should be extra cautious of the actions that we do for it is us who will face the consequences of our actions.


Alley, R., Clark, P., Huybrechts, P and Joughins, I. (2005). Ice sheet and sea level changes. Science. Vol. 310. Retrieved on November 22, 2006 from  http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/310/5747/456.pdf.

Christy, J. (1997). Testimony of John R. Christy. Retrieved on November 22, 2006 from http://www.clearlight.com/~mhieb/WVFossils/jchristy.html.]

Global Warming: n.d. Global Warming. Retrieved on Novemeber 22, 2006 from http://weathereye.kgan.com/expert/warming/skeptic.html.

Hieb, M. and Hieb, H. (2006). Global warming: a chilling perspective. Retrieved on November 22, 2006 from http://www.clearlight.com/~mhieb/WVFossils/ice_ages.html.

IPCC, (2001). Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Houghton, J.T.,Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K.

Maskell, and C.A. Johnson (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 881pp. Retrieved on November 22, 2006 from http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/pdf/WG1_TAR-FRONT.PDF.


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