Global warming is the phenomenon of increase in the average temperature of the planet, Earth. The temperature of our planet has been on the rise since the middle of the 20th century. Studies highlight that from the beginning and towards the conclusion of the 20th century, the global temperature projected an increase of 0.74 ± 0.18 degree Celsius. The principal reason for this global warming is observed to be the emission of greenhouse gases. Combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation contributes largely towards the release of these gases into the environment.
Scientists anticipate that during this century, the surface temperature of the earth would probably rise by 1.1 to 6.4 degree Celsius. It is estimated that global warming would have far reaching effects across many more centuries in the future owing to the heat capacity of the oceans and large lifespan of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The climatic adversities related to global warming include rise in sea levels, alteration in the pattern of rain, increase in subtropical deserts, withdrawing of glaciers, extinction of various species and transition in crop production.
While the governments of several countries have agreed to the norms of the Kyoto Protocol as an attempt towards reduction of discharge of greenhouse gases, the common man can take certain self initiative as well. It has been a common notion until now that green patches in the urban areas could thwart the negative consequences of greenhouse gas emissions, thereby aiding in reduction of global warming. However, recent research contradicts this perception and puts forth a completely opposite viewpoint. About 1.9 percent of land in the United States is covered with turf grass. This step has been based on the know-how that since carbon dioxide is required for the process of photosynthesis, therefore such lawns aid in eliminating the carbon dioxide present in the environment. As a result, these turf grass lawns are considered to be ‘carbon sinks’. However, lately it has been reported that several general practices followed on these lawns actually lead to the production of greenhouse gases. Aspects such as fertilizer production, mowing, leaf blowing and other lawn management practices result in the emission of greenhouse gases in a proportion four folds more than the amount of carbon stored by such ornate green spaces. An extremely potent greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide is discovered to be released from soil after fertilization. Nitrous oxide is immensely detrimental to the environment as it is estimated to be 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Although it is true that we are in need of these carbon sinks but one cannot overlook the aspect of greenhouse gas emissions in the process. It is believed that agricultural farms top the charts in emission of nitrous oxide and astonishingly certain studies reveal that the nitrous oxide emissions from lawns are of the same potential as those found in agricultural farms. Therefore, despite the refreshing green appearance, it is time that we take a deeper look into the reality of green spaces flourishing in urban areas.