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Evaluate the responses of societies to global warming at
international, national and local scale. (40 marks) 2000 words
Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature in the Earth's
atmosphere and oceans in recent decades. The Earth's average near-surface atmospheric
temperature rose by 0.6 +-0.2 *c during the 20th century. The majority of scientists believe that most
of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activity.
Global warming is predicted to have numerous consequences. Firstly there will be rising sea
levels which would cause increased flooding in coastal areas and increased erosion in others.
Secondly, many regions will experience warmer summers. In the UK by 2030 temperatures could
have increased by more than 2*c. This would lead to changes in migration and agriculture also. Lastly,
extreme events such as heat waves, flood, droughts and storms will all last longer and show an
increasing intensity. With higher temperatures there will be increased evaporation over the oceans,
leading to greater global precipitation. It is therefore necessary for us to take action and reduce the
effects so that the earth does not become wrecked. Although it won't effect is immediately, the
consequences would affect later generations.
Responses on an international scale have mainly consisted of carbon credits and the Kyoto
agreement. The Kyoto agreement was created in December 1997, an agreement where countries
made emission limits for a "first commitment period" of 2008-12 from a base year of 1990. Over
100 governments signed a Climate Change Protocol. This set more specific targets for pollution
mitigation and proposed schemes to enable governments to reach these target. Most governments
agreed that by 2010 they should have reduced their atmospheric levels to those of 1990. The Kyoto
Protocol came into force in February 2005 and by 2006 it had been ratified by 162 countries. It is due
to expire in 2012.
Furthermore in July 2005 the G8 world leaders and delegaters from China, India, Brazil, South
Africa and Mexico attended a conference in Gleneagles in Scotland where they agreed urgent action
needed to be taken to make significant reductions in greenhouse gases. The G8 countries are home
to some 13.5% of the total world population but contribute to around 39% of current greenhouse
emissions. The Gleneages Action Plan included plans for increased energy efficiency in buildings and
appliances, cleaner fuels, renewable energy and the promotion of research and development into
Carbon credits are a system by which countries set an annual carbon dioxide pollution limit.
Major polluting countries are able to buy "carbon credits" from less polluting countries which aren't
using all there available carbon credits. Therefore as a planet, the earth is limited to the amount of
carbon dioxide used and countries which feel the need to pollute more can do so but only by
purchasing more credits. Therefore it's a disincentive for countries to pollute over the agreed limit.
On a national scale in the UK the government created the Climate Change Programme which
consisted of policies and priorities for action to address the issue of climate change and global
warming. These included strategies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, manage the impacts of
climate change and improve energy efficiency. Building regulations were tightened to ensure that
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new housing was properly insulated and had energy-saving boilers. On the subject of transport,
vehicle excise duty and company car tax were amended to ensure financial incentives for those
driving vehicles with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions. The Carbon Trust was granted £65 million
from the government over 5 years to help provide loans to small and medium sized businesses
investing in improved energy efficiency.…read more
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Secondly, some countries are disproportionally responsible for releasing greenhouse gases.
In 1996, the USA released 21% of global carbon dioxide even though it had only 4% of the world's
population which emphasises how important it was for USA to sign.
Some countries, in particular the least developed countries which have little industry and few
vehicles, release low levels of greenhouse gases.…read more
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I think that all international, national and local are all important as they will all bring positive
consequences to responding to global warming. However some have better affects than others. I
believe that the international is the most important since it's on such a huge scale the affects should
be just as big. Recycling and using energy wisely are very easy and if everyone took these actions
then the affects of global warming would be reducing massively.…read more