Understanding the environment is key to taking care of it. This short article hopes to present the basic issues and terminologies surrounding the environment in order to demystify the subject. In sum, all of us have a responsibility to protect the planet where we live in. Until NASA finds us another planetary habitat in the coming years (highly improbable), it will be best to do what we can in order to prevent its destruction. Let us start by assessing the status of our environment. According to NASA, weak El Nino and human-made greenhouse gases could make 2005 the warmest year since records started being kept in the late 1800s. While climate events like El Nino affect global temperatures, the increasing role of human-made pollutants plays a big part. There has been a strong warming trend over the past 30 years, a trend that has been shown to be due primarily to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Last year was the fourth-warmest recorded. Average temperatures taken from land and surfaces of the oceans showed 2004 was 0.86 degrees Fahrenheit (0.48 C) above the average temperature from 1951 to 1980. The warmest year on record was 1998, with 2002 and 2003 coming in second and third, respectively. Short-term factors like large volcanic eruptions that launched tiny particles of sulfuric acid into the upper atmosphere in 1963, 1982 and 1991 can change climates for periods of time ranging from months to a few years. Also, El Ninos -- when warm water spreads over much of the tropical Pacific Ocean -- have intense short-term influences on climate. The spike in global temperatures in 1998 was associated with one of the strongest El Ninos of recent centuries, and a weak El Nino contributed to the unusually high global temperatures in 2002 and 2003, NASA said. Carbon dioxide, emitted by autos, industry and utilities, is the most common greenhouse gas. Earth\\\\\\\'s surface absorbs more of the sun\\\\\\\'s energy than gets reflected back to space. That extra energy, together with a weak El Nino, is expected to make 2005 warmer than 2003 and 2004, and perhaps even warmer than 1998, which had stood out as far hotter than any year in the preceding century.
From December 1 through 11, 1997, more than 160 nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate binding limitations on greenhouse gases for the developed nations, pursuant to the objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992. The outcome of the meeting was the Kyoto Protocol, in which the developed nations agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, relative to the levels emitted in 1990. The United States agreed to reduce emissions from 1990 levels by 7 percent during the period 2008 to 2012. Dictionary.com defines sustainable development as ?any construction that can be maintained over time without damaging the environment; development balancing near-term interests with the protection of the interests of future generations.? The term sustainable development is often mentioned in various documents of committees, councils, and forums under the auspices of the United Nations arm on environmental protection. Understanding the principle is key to knowing where all this documentation is coming from. One practical application of the concept of sustainable development is making the sacrifice of taking the bus, instead of driving a car to and from work. It?s such a simple act. But if a lot of people do it, it can help curb the ever-growing greenhouse effect in the long run. In making this conscious act, an individual acknowledges that economic progress is possible while taking care of the environment. Dellan Bienten is the owner of AmenEnvironment http://www.amenenvironment.com