One of the most biggest issues across the world is probably ‘global warming’. According to the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report (AR5), the world is struggling with climate change because of the artificial rising of instruction development. Globally, we are still of different minds for how to deal with global warming. However, it is not true that we need to just let climate change happen without any action. In fact, we have acted globally to confront environmental problems in the past. A great example of this is ‘ozone depletion’ in 1980s. You probably know this was big news and also know that it is steadily recovering. This is a good example how international efforts can and are working. Then what about global warming? Do we think it has the possibility to recover from our current gloomy situation?
What I want to talk about through this post is our attitude on each situation: ‘ozone depletion’ and ‘global warming’.
Let’s compare the two situations. First, consider ozone depletion. Observed since the late 1956 by G.M.B. Dobson (Exploring the Atmosphere, 2nd Edition, Oxford, 1968), the ozone hole was what gathered the attention of not only a lot of scientists from all around the world, but also public’s fear of ozone depletion and the ozone hole. As many of you already know, the ozone layer is a belt of naturally occurring ozone gas that sits 9.3 to 18.6 miles (15 to 30 kilometers) above the Earth and serves as a shield from the harmful ultraviolet B radiation emitted by the Sun. Thanks to media’s fuss at that time, fear of ozone depletion spread all around the world. Throughout the 20th century, discoveries and observations trickled in that allowed scientists to understand how human-made chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons create a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica each spring. Not only people’s fears about ozone depletion but also swift action by advanced countries led to clear and concrete actions. In 1987, representatives from 43 nations signed the Montreal Protocol. At Montreal, almost all advanced countries, such as USA and EU, agreed to freeze production of CFCs at 1986 levels and to reduce production by 50% by 1999. Apparent results and swift actions led by advanced countries made a bad situation better noticeably and effectively. It has been extremely successful.
What about global change? Global warming is what we struggle with these days. What is now clear is that global warming is caused by humankind. This fact was not acknowledged by many people at first. Too many suspicions even at the national level made it hard to progress into action. Because the burning of fossil fuels – which produce of GHGs – are linked to both global warming and national development, it is no doubt to hard to give up. The first time when it was brought up, developed countries such as USA did not really pay attention to global warming. The countries that emit the most GHGs in the world are reluctant to stop burning fossil fuels to cease the acceleration of global warming. Even though fossil fuel burning must stop (or reduce dramatically) to reduce global warming, when it comes to real actions, the USA didn’t really act. At the ‘Kyoto protocol’, it implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. However, the United States rejected the treaty on the basis that “it exempts 80% of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance, and would cause serious harm to the US economy.” For these reasons, the treaty to reduce global warming is not effective and slow. Fortunately, fewer and fewer people believe global warming is fake and the IPCC also clearly states that it is caused by people’s actions. However, actions toward global warming are still slow and not effective.
Because global warming is entwined with economical and political issues, it is really hard to step forward. Comparing the two examples of ‘ozone depletion’ and ‘global warming’, the approach each issue shows how much we can accomplish when we decide to take action. Complex situations with other countries – especially related to economic and political issues – make it more difficult to step forward and achieve what we need to achieve. We need to think seriously and act to do our best to stop global warming.
– Liverman, D.M. (2008). “Conventions of climate change: constructions of danger and the dispossession of the atmosphere” (PDF). Journal of Historical Geography 35 (2): 279–296. doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2008.08.008. Retrieved 10 May 2011
-Summary for Policymakers” (PDF). IPCC/TEAP special report on safeguarding the ozone layer and the global climate system: issues related to hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons. Cambridge: Published for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [by] Cambridge University Press. 2005. ISBN 0-521-86336-8.