Global Warming in 21st Century Essay

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Global Warming

Major Issues of the 21st Century: Who is Responsible for Addressing Global Warming?

Global warming is one of the most pressing issues in the 21st century. In the last few decades, the world has experienced higher temperatures, increased melting of ice caps, rising sea levels, more regular and more adverse weather events (such as storms, floods, heat waves, and drought), and changing rainfall patterns. We have also observed increased rain and ocean acidification, desert expansion, as well as greater species endangerment. These occurrences have largely been linked to human activity, particularly air pollution, burning of fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, industrialization, and deforestation. The issue is so pressing that it threatens the ability of future generations to sustain their lives, which is ethically unfair. Indeed, global warming threatens food security, human health, human and non-human survival, as well as socioeconomic stability in the future (Cummins, 2014; Justin, 2015). Addressing the problem, however, remains a major challenge in large part due to the moral, ethical, and philosophical questions surrounding it. More specifically, there remains a great deal of controversy over who is responsible for reversing global warming. In this presentation, I delve into this issue.

The presentation will be made at an upcoming climate change conference held at a local community center. The audience comprises a range of stakeholders including environmentalists, climate change advocates, business organizations, academicians, as well as local and state government representatives. The presentation is intended to contribute to the growing discourse on addressing global warming. The presentation is expected to influence policy and decision making in the area of climate change.

Though disputed by some commentators, global warming is real. We can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand. It is estimated that with the present rate of fossil fuel consumption, global temperatures will surpass the 2oC limit in the next one and a half decades or so (Torcello & Mann, 2014). If this limit is reached, then the possibility of even reaching even 3oC in the next few decades cannot be ignored. This would mean even more intense and frequent weather and climatic events -- we would stare at greater habitat destruction, more tropical diseases, increased devastation of island cultures, more crop failures, greater displacement of populations, and so on. At some point, we may even be unable to cope with the consequences.

While there is immense consensus that global warming is real, the international community is yet to agree on how to effectively address the challenge. The 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference is an ideal example of how addressing global warming remains a complex challenge. During the conference, it was quite difficult for the global community to agree on a compulsory timeline to cut back carbon emissions. Such difficulties send the message that we human beings are somewhat determined to make this planet unfit for human life in the future. There is no doubt that we, the present generation, have an obligation to preserve the planet for our future generations. We must do whatever it takes to ensure the planet is inhabitable in the future -- we must stop clearing forests, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and be more environment-conscious.

Achieving environmental sustainability, however, comes at a cost. For us to shift to more sustainable energy sources and more environment-friendly infrastructural designs, as well as reduce our vulnerability to storms and other natural disasters, a price must be paid. Regrettably, a few are willing to pay the price. In as much as we theoretically acknowledge our ethical and moral responsibilities for the planet, we are in practice not making the necessary sacrifices to safeguard the future of our generations. This gap between theory and practice largely stems from differences in contributions to global warming between developed and developing countries.

It is evident that developed countries are the greatest contributors of global warming. Statistics indicate that the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia, Mexico, India, China, Brazil, and Indonesia account for more than 70% of all global emissions; with the U.S., Canada, Japan, Europe, and Russia leading in terms of per capita emissions (BBC News Magazine, 2016). Nonetheless, developed countries are the least affected. With more wealth and resources, developed countries are better placed to….....

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BBC News Magazine (2016, July 28). The global philosopher: who should pay for climate change? Retrieved from:

Cummins, N. (2014). The philosophy of global warming. U.S.: Cranmore Publications.

Gardiner, S., & Hartzell-Nichols, L. (2012). Ethics and global climate change. Nature Education Knowledge, 3(10): 5.

Justin, W. (2015). Philosophers on climate change. Retrieved from:

Maguire, L. (2014). The moral costs of climate change. Retrieved from:

Torcello, L., & Mann, M. (2014). Limiting global warming to 2oC: the philosophy and the science. Retrieved from: the-philosophy-and-the-science-32074

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