Global Warming , Nuclear Power and the Environment

The Greenhouse effect is vital for habitation on the Earth; Greenhouse gases naturally blanket the Earth and keep the average temperature about 33 degrees Celsius warmer than without these gases in the atmosphere. Over the past century, however, the average Earth temperature has increased by about 0.5 degrees Celsius and it is predicted that at the end of the 21st century the temperature can rise by 0.5 to 2 degrees Celsius if we do not instigate drastic steps to halt and decrease the production of Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This process of climate change called 'global warming' can be very negative in nature; more severe floods and droughts, increasing prevalence of insects, sea levels rising, and the Earth's precipitation redistributed. The climate and environmental changes will impact society negatively, which include a decline in health and decreasing economic development.

The main Greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are Carbon Dioxide (76%), Methane (13%), Nitrous Oxide (6%), and Fluorocarbons (5%). Carbon Dioxide is released into the atmosphere as a result of humans exhaling, the combustion of liquid fuels derived from fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation, deforestation, etc. The increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has increased by 12% between 1959 and 1996, and has accelerated since this period. The World Energy Council reported that global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels rose 12% between 1990 and 1995; the increase from developing countries was three times that from developed countries. Middle East carbon dioxide emissions from burning of fossil fuels increased 35%, Africa increased by 12%, and Eastern Europe increased rates by 75% from 1990 to 1995.

The Carbon Dioxide molecule is currently the most talked about, written about, published about, and planned about chemical compound on the globe. The global reliance on fossil fuel for energy production generates 26.5 billion tons of CO2 emission per annum (2007). The predicted devastating effects of global warming fanned by the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations have arrested the thinking and opinion of politicians, scientists, and businessmen and this aspect is high on the agenda of all responsible governments.

The World's leading authority on global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is a United Nations sponsored organization made up of 2500 scientists from around the world! They have concluded by consensus that: "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate". One of the major conventions concerning global warming resulted in the Kyoto Protocol (Japan: December 1-11, 1997). Delegates from across the globe united to find a universal agreement to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions. This Protocol commits the developed nations to drastically reduce

Greenhouse gas emissions; United States must cut emissions 7%, Japan 6%, and the European Union 8% below 1990 levels!

We can minimize the global emission of carbon dioxide by producing and using energy more efficiently, by sequestering carbon dioxide, by increasing the use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind power, and hydroelectric power, and expanding the use of nuclear power, which is the only large-scale source of electricity other than hydroelectric power that does not generate Greenhouse gases.