Global Warming, Sustainable Development and WTO

By Bhowmik, Debesh | Political Economy Journal of India, January-July 2011 | Go to article overview

Global Warming, Sustainable Development and WTO


Bhowmik, Debesh, Political Economy Journal of India


It is a known fact that the global temperature will increase 10[degrees]C in the next 100 years for which the sea level will increase 6 meters in the next 100 years. The increase in green house gases like CFC, HCFC, C, C[H.sub.4], and C[O.sub.2] are the factors of global warming. The effects of global warming are numerous such as: it will destroy eco-system of sea, coral formation, vanish national park of Alaska, Florida Panthar, Himalaya, and destroy the world ecosystem. Global warming has a great effect on agricultural productivity which will decline in several regions that can hamper food security of the world. The earth's climate is driven by solar radiation. In the long term, the energy absorbed from the sun must be balanced by outgoing radiation from the earth and the atmosphere. Part of this outgoing energy is absorbed and reemitted by radiative atmospheric gases, thereby reducing net emission of energy to space. To maintain the global energy balance, both the atmosphere and the surface will warm until the outgoing energy equals the incoming energy. This is the greenhouse effect. In 1827 Fourier conceived the theory of the green house effect. Arrhenius published in 1896 a analysis of possible climate change caused by industrial emissions of radiatively active gases. Early in the 20th century there was a lively scientific debate on whether atmospheric carbon dioxide would increase and lead to warming, or decline and lead to cooling. Carbon dioxide accumulations were first raised as a national concern in the United States in a 1965 report of the President's Science Advisory Committee. In the 1970s attention switched from greenhouse warming to the possibility of global cooling, motivated in part by a cooling trend that began about 1940. By the early 1980 fears of global warming had revived, again partly because temperatures indicated an end to the cooling trend. By the middle of the 1980s a number of national and international and 4.5[degrees]C (and possibly higher) by some time in the 21st century which was reported by the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee 1983.

The main greenhouse gases which are shown in the Table-1 differ in the intensity of their heat trapping (or radiative forcing) and atmospheric lifetimes and thus in their ability to affect the radiative balance of the earth. CFC and nitrous oxide are many times more potent than the same quantity of carbon dioxide or methane.

Future trends in green house gases concentrations depend on number of factors--economic growth, the energy intensity of production, and the chemistry of the atmosphere, biosphere, and ocean-not all of which are fully understood. Nonetheless, as the recent scientific assessment by the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emphasized the direction is clear. Sometimes in the next century, heat trapping (or radiative forcing) from increases in greenhouse gases is likely to reach a level equivalent to a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations over their pre-industrial level.

The International Climate Policy

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 declared that in poor countries, (i) diarrheal diseases that result from contaminated water kill about 2 million children and cause about 900 million episodes of illness each year, (ii) Indoor air pollution from burning wood, charcoal, and dung endangers the health of 400 million to 700 million people, (iii) dust and soot in city air cause between 300000 and 700000 premature deaths a year, (iv) soil erosion can cause annual economic losses ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 percent of GNP, (v) a quarter of all irrigated land suffers from salinisation, (vi) tropical forests- the primary source of livelihood for about 140 million people --are being lost at a rate of 0.9 percent annually. Besides that concern over ozone depletion continues to grow. The consequences of loss of bio-diversity and of greenhouse warming are less certain but are likely to extent far into future and to be effectively irreversible. …

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