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Global Warming: A Real Threat

Olivia Cowley, 1st Year Reporter

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Over the years, people have debated whether or not global warming is in fact real. However, there have been hundreds of studies proving its existence and the effect we are having on its gradual increase.

What exactly is global warming you ask? By definition, global warming is: a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants. According to Earth Observatory from NASA, scientists estimate the Earth has risen approximately 0.7 degrees Celsius in the past century alone. Although this may not seem extreme, when compared to the Earth’s warming after the ice age, it is put into perspective. NASA estimates that over the millions of years the Earth was recovering from the ice age, the Earth’s surface temperature increased by only 4-7 degrees Celsius.

This means that the Earth’s warming rate has been 10 times faster in the past century than after the Ice Age. At this rate, scientist predict that the Earth’s warming rate will be at least 20 times faster in the next century.

The root of the problems are humans. Burning fossil fuels to create electricity and drive cars creates carbon dioxide, which is then trapped in the atmosphere. This is an issue because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, meaning it absorbs thermal infrared radiation (the sun’s energy) and traps heat to keep the earth warm. Without it the earth would be much cooler. As more carbon dioxide is created and trapped, it absorbs more unneeded heat that cannot escape.

Although there are other greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, carbon dioxide is the gas humans create the most and it is causing the most damage.

Some argue that the Earth is naturally going to warm and that humans are not part of the issue. It is true that the Earth naturally warms and changes climate, however we are increasing its warming rate and creating more problems than what were previously there.

The effects of global warming are not some far off issues we don’t have to worry about, they are happening now.

According to National Geographic, some impacts occurring as we speak include; melting ice at the poles and Greenland, a decline of certain penguin species, a rise in sea levels, animals moving north to find cooler areas and disrupting ecosystems, an increase in the average amount of global precipitation, and a species of beetle, known as the bark beetle, decimating forests in the western United States because they have survived when cold temperatures should have killed them.

Predicted effects of global warming are said to be; a rise in sea levels by 7-23 inches in the next century, an increase in the strength of hurricanes and other storms, an increase in the number of droughts and floods depending on the region of the world, a decrease in fresh water, a greater chance of disease-carrying insects spreading, and a dramatic change in ecosystems worldwide (National Geographic).

Many people assume there is nothing they can do to help prevent global warming and label it as only a “scientist’s job”. However, in your everyday lives you can make small improvements to help the cause. Doing things such as discussing it with people you know, reducing your fossil fuel use by using less energy or using alternative energy sources like solar and wind power, planting trees, reducing your garbage waste, and conserving water are all tasks that can make a difference.

Just think, if everyone began making an effort to stop the effects of global warming, polar bears might actually live a little longer.

 

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