Effects of Global Warming in Shanghai Essay
Environmental protection and rational use of natural resources present one of the most imperative global challenges of modern time. Their resolving is inextricably linked to the fight for peace in the world, debarment of nuclear catastrophe, disarmament, peaceful coexistence, and mutually beneficial cooperation of states.
The greenhouse gases’ presence in the airspace explains why heat that is emanated by the surface of the earth remains in the air layer. The level of the concentration of greenhouse gases influences overheating of the planet’s surface. Over millions of years, the content of gases that cause the greenhouse effect has reached a value that allows maintaining thermal equilibrium. All these aspects lead to global warming.
The danger to the atmosphere and climate concerns all people. Therefore, a resolute fight against this danger should be done only by joint international efforts fixed in international global agreements. Along with the carriers of responsibility and decision-making in politics, ordinary people can also make a significant contribution to curbing the dangers of the greenhouse effect and the ozone hole. Everyone can make a significant contribution to the active protection of the environment through the economical, systematic, and sparing use of energy.
The problem of greenhouse effect and global warming has special relevance for China. China and the United States are the two countries that are major producers of greenhouse gases in the world. This will inevitably lead to global warming, as a result of which Shanghai can go under water. To reduce consumption of coal and prevent catastrophic effects of global warming, the Chinese government has put solar, wind, and hydro power plants into operation. Therefore, global warming puts Shanghai at the risk of sinking if only there are not implemented measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gases emission and changing the attitude towards power consumption.
At the present time, the question of changing the climate of the Earth as an outcome of the effect of man’s activities is becoming increasingly important. The growth of the concentration of greenhouse gases, which leads to heating of the surface of the Earth and lower atmosphere, is of particular concern. Greenhouse effect is a natural warming effect, which can be dangerous to health due to excessive fuel combustion.
Greenhouse gases include compounds of the atmosphere of anthropogenic and natural character, which soak and pass radiation in the infrared range that is identical with the infrared diapason of the Earth's atmosphere, surface, and clouds. Key greenhouse gases are methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), troposphere ozone (O3), nitrous oxide (N2O), and water vapor (H2O). A number of other greenhouse gases of exceptionally anthropogenic background such as halocarbons exist.
In a society of agriculture, resistance to nature was weak. Fossil energy consumption was limited so that it was possible to avoid emissions pollution during social and economic activities of the humanity. Reasons for fluctuations in the society were natural disasters and the struggle for resources. After the industrial revolution, the economy has developed rapidly and used energy resources, which has increased pollution emissions. However, in the process of industrialization, the impact of natural disasters on the economy has gradually weakened and economic growth has fluctuated due to the cyclicality of the economic crisis. The higher the degree of globalization of the economy is, the more it affects the global economic crisis. Thus, developing countries that are lagging behind in terms of economic development have showed little participation in global international activities as the crisis has had less of an impact on them than on industrialized European and American countries. After the crisis, the volume of emissions has been growing rapidly, reaching a new level. The level of emissions per capita is directly dependent on the level of development of the country. Thus, the higher the level of development is, the higher level of emissions is. The population and consumer services use clean oil, natural gas, and electricity. Industries, especially heavy, rely mainly on less expensive, but extremely polluting power sources such as fossil fuels.
The mechanism of the greenhouse effect is the following. The sun's rays reach the Earth's surface where they are absorbed by the soil, vegetation, water surface, and others. The heated surface gives heat back into the atmosphere, but in the form of long-wave radiation. Atmospheric gases (oxygen, nitrogen, argon) do not absorb the heat radiation from the surface, but disperse it. Nevertheless, as a consequence of fossil fuels’ burning and other industrial processes, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and various hydrocarbons (ethane, methane, propane, etc.) are accumulated in the atmosphere. They absorb thermal radiation from the Earth's surface. The resulting screen leads to the greenhouse effect – global warming.
In addition to the greenhouse effect, the presence of these gases causes the formation of the so-called photochemical smog. At the same time, as a result of photochemical reactions, hydrocarbons produce extremely toxic products like aldehydes and ketones.
Global warming is one of the most considerable outcomes of anthropogenic contamination of the biosphere. It manifests itself as a change in the biota and climate: modifications in crop yields, switching limits of plant formations, and changes in the production operations in ecosystems. Especially severe transformations may apply to high and mid-latitudes. The nature of these areas is particularly sensitive to diverse effects and indicates a very tardy restoration.
Global warming begins with the melting of glaciers. This causes sea levels to rise, thereby bringing the balance of the ecosystem and increasing the Earth's temperature. At the first glance, it is not so scary, but all of this is accompanied with some consequences that need to be considered as deadly. The natural environment of dangerous insects is getting hotter and the climate of the northern countries is perfect for their existence since it is milder. Therefore, people are at a higher risk of contracting insect-borne diseases as insects move to the north.
When the water level rises in the oceans, flooding becomes the first symbol of global warming. An increase at least by another meter will lead to improbable results. A number of islands will become history as the highest dam would not be able to stop flooding and much of the shoreline of the mainland will disappear. Besides this, the enlargement in temperature produces more intense water vaporization, making heavy rains stronger and more frequent. Global warming causes an increase in not only the atmospheric temperature, but also the ocean temperature. Warm waters become the force of hurricanes. Global warming makes the climate very strange. While some part of the world is suffering from drought, the other suffers from floods and some countries suffer from harsh winters.
Unfavorable effects of climate variation include transformations in the physical environment or biota that are resulted by climate change, which has considerable adverse impact on the contexture, resiliency, or productiveness of natural and controllable ecosystems or on the maintenance of socio-economic systems, people’s health, and well-being. The effects of climate change are evident today in the form of enlarged frequency and severity of harsh weather events and extension of infectious diseases. They induce considerable economical harm and threaten the existence of a stabile ecosystem, health, and lives of people. The ongoing climate change could produce even more hazardous outcomes in the future if the humankind does not take corresponding preventative measures.
All countries face issues and challenges that are associated with environmental problems. Chinese problems of adaptation to climate changes are particularly relevant as the country struggles to prevent pollution and disasters that can result from unrestrained economic development. In 2008, the China Meteorological Administration emphasized that “the average temperature of the earth's surface in China has risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius” during the past century. In the period from 1986 to 2007, China experienced 21 warm winters. The effects of global warming are diverse due to China’s enormous proportions and its specific geographies. There are vast mountains, deserts, grasslands, as well as tropical forests and waterside spaces.
Shanghai is at the risk to go under the water as a result of global warming processes. The reason for this will be the melting of Antarctic ice. According to Liu, the Chinese people named the city on the basis of its location. Its name means ‘above the sea’. Today, Shanghai’s engineers reinforce flood levees and gates in order to maintain rivers rising because of subsidence and silting.
Shanghai is “located in a low-lying area near the mouth of the Yangtze River”. It is characterized by low land level that makes the city especially powerless in the face of the rise of sea levels. With Shanghai’s development, its authorities have pumped out a great amount of groundwater. “Shanghai sank 1.76 meters from 1921 to 1965”. Despite the measures taken by the city government in order to reduce pumping groundwater, there is another factor that can accelerate the danger of sinking. Land reclamation makes Shanghai more assailable to the effects of global warming. The urban development in Shanghai is considered as one of the biggest programs of land reclamation in the world. Pudong that is Shanghai’s most successful commercial zone is built on the reclaimed land. To follow the success of this district, there is a continuation of land reclamation around Chongming Island in order to construct an eco-city. Reclaimed land produces high financial profits in the city. Nevertheless, this land presents a high danger of sea level rising. Moreover, there is also a possibility that skyscrapers that put great weight on the land can be a reason for sinking of Shanghai's marshy grounds. Chih-Yin Lai states that “the average altitude of reclaimed land in the Yangtze River Delta is only three to five meters above sea level”. Thus, even a 60 cm sea level rise threatens Shanghai with sinking with at least 18 million of its residents. This will inevitably destroys city’s economic growth and structures built on the reclaimed lands. In addition, a sea level rise will result in coastal erosion, storm surges, and intrusion of salt water into the Yangtze River.
Liu argues that global warming has disastrous effects on Shanghai’s economy. Fishing industry will suffer from the climate change due to heating of the sea. Fish would not thrive in hot water. In addition, typhoons and other types of extraordinary weather scare away a number of tourists. Climate change continues to threaten the economy and ecosystems of Shanghai by affecting its biodiversity, tourism, transportation, insurance, and investment.
Moreover, Kan argues that climate change has negative effects on health of Chinese people. Thus, there is a relation between mortality and extreme weather events, infectious disease, and changes in water and air quality. The mortality during weather extremes can be attributed to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Particularly, in Shanghai heat waves led to increased mortality in 1998 and 2003. Kurane suggests that the rise of mortality as the result of global warming will increase in the future. Kurane states that global warming has a negative impact on human health, causing various infectious diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, and other vector-borne infectious diseases.
Shanghai has lost natural barriers, which can soften effects of erosion and soak the impacts of storm surges. To prevent disasters, Shanghai has to recover wetlands and finish their reclaiming. The wetland in Shanghai serves as a protection for residents. To repair this safeguard, the city has to shift to a new economic system. Shanghai shows great enthusiasm in fighting with the key reason of climate change: emission of greenhouse gases.
The city tries to clean up power sources. Shanghai has provided the first commercial project on selling solar-derived electricity. It has constructed “the world's first large-scale offshore wind farm outside Europe”. Due to advanced electricity networks, electricity that is generated from hydropower allows Shanghai to become the biggest city on the Earth that consumes clean energy.
Nonetheless, city’s power also comes from coal. To reduce greenhouse gases, the city has to implement measures that are aimed at consuming less energy. There is a need to equip more buildings with solar water heaters. Shanghai’s regulators have doubled prices for electricity for particular unproductive industries such as cement, leather, and steel producers. Factories will receive financial incentives for upgrading technologies. Residents receive “subsidized prices for energy-saving light bulbs and more efficient air conditioners”. As a result of providing these reforms, Shanghai has decreased its use of energy by 20 percent.
Reduction of Global Warming Effects
Currently, China suffers from climate change. In the country, production of major crops has reduced, the volume of runoff of major rivers has changed, and soil erosion occurs. The country acknowledges its position as a primary polluter and understands its historical responsibility for solving the issue. President Xi Jinping cooperates with President Obama to change rules and provide reforms for preventing climate change.
The structure of energy sources in China is based on coal as nuclear energy requires massive investment and a certain period of time. Increasing commercial competitiveness of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar energy, also takes time. Thus, the process of cleansing the energy of China is severe and prolonged.
China's economic development as a part of the international economy has suffered from a blow, which has led to energy savings and emission reduction. Major crisis events have adversely affected economic development, but have also played an effective role in saving energy and reducing emissions in terms of energy consumption and pollution emissions. In China, the target of economic development has been successfully accomplished, but outcomes of energy savings and pollution shortening do not meet the aim. In recent decades, the economic rise has slowed, power and energy consuming has fallen sharply, and evidently energy saving and emission reduction have ceased to be the primary problems. Indeed, during the economic crisis, energy demand and greenhouse gases emissions are greatly reduced. However, it is a temporary phenomenon. In the future, the economy will grow so that the energy saving and emission reduction are a long-term strategic challenge that cannot be ignored. In particular, it is important to be fully aware of the importance of reducing greenhouse gases. A resolution to reduce emissions must meet requirements of development in light of the establishment of the international climate regime.
Despite the fact that the aim of energy savings and emission shortening in China is successfully reached against a background of economic crisis, it does not mean that the long-term target of reducing greenhouse gases will be realized in the same natural way. Objectively speaking, the reduction of GHG emissions is not fully consistent with reducing emissions by saving energy. Saving energy reduces energy consumption and there is a natural reduction in emissions of pollution and GHG. In this sense, they are consistent with each other. However, sulfur dioxide, dust, and other atmospheric pollutants can be controlled by engineering and technical methods, for example, by the use of equipment for desulfurization and subsequent digging into the ground. However, at the moment this is not possible from the commercial point of view.
Modern boilers reduce emissions of harmful substances during burning. With modern heating boilers, it is possible to save a lot of energy and avoid a partial load on the environment. Thermal insulation of houses and apartments is the most important and effective energy-saving measure. Expansion and use of renewable energies such as solar, wind, water, and biogas also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. China has to develop specific ways of utilizing coal in a cleaner and more efficient way. Its ability to implement effective reforms in power policy will be decisive for its local environment, energy security, and well-being of its residents, as well as “for the future of the global climate”.
The policy on combating the greenhouse effect should be based on the adoption of the following reforms and measures: reduction in the use of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and gas; effective use of energy; prevalent acceptance of energy-saving technologies; extensive using of alternative energy (renewable energy); development of new environmentally friendly and low-carbon technologies; fight with forest fires; and forest restoration. However, even complete realization of all the measures intended to preclude the enhanced greenhouse effect is improbable to totally recompense the loss that is caused to natural world as a result of anthropogenic effect, but in any case it can minimize consequences. Therefore, the above measures should be accepted in a complex and at the global level.
The volume of energy consumption is an important indicator of not only economic development, but also of the extent of environmental pollution, including air pollution. Energy consumption is most sensitive to economic fluctuations. Consequences of different crises and severe economic downturns impact energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. A financial and economic crisis will inevitably lead to a reduction in energy consumption and alleviate problems of energy saving and emission reduction. In China, the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions has increased. There is a possibility of Shanghai sinking as a result of global warming. The city’s regulators have implemented a number of reforms aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions and minimizing negative effects of global warming. These reforms have had a positive result, but they are insufficient. There is a need to continue changing policy and implementing reforms in order to avoid the catastrophic outcome of global warming. The debarment of global warming demands coordinated efforts of all nations. One of the most evident and efficient solutions to the issue of global warming is the rational consumption of energy and decrease of emissions of greenhouse gases. One of the main efforts that are undertaken by the international community is conversion from conventional methods of energy generation associated with the combustion of the carbon raw material to the non-traditional (alternative) energy, including the use of wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal power plants.