It seems that most people have confusion about why we need to take action to preserve our environment. “Global Warming” is too specific, and doesn’t give the whole picture, leading people to not believe in its existence. Global Climate Change is a better description of the problem people need to be aware of, that we need to solve.
It is true that on the whole, global temperatures are on the rise. The global temperature has been rising since 1880. The cause of global warming is the emission of greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane), which trap heat inside the earth’s atmosphere. In recent decades since the Industrial Revolution (over the past century and beyond), humans have produced more of the emissions (through fossil fuels) which contribute to an unstable greenhouse effect. 1
Okay, so greenhouse gases don’t sound too bad. Sooo the earth gets a little hotter – big deal? Wrong. This Global Warming has contributed to an overall Climate Change effect. Because temperatures are rising in some places at some times of the year, weather patterns, ecosystems, and animal habitats are affected all over the world. The one you have probably heard the most about is the melting of the Arctic ice caps. Well, it’s true that glaciers melt every spring. The problem is that recently, a higher percentage of the ice caps have melted than in the past, which puts more water into the oceans, leading to cooler ocean currents and rising tides, which threaten to overtake low-lying areas like California and the Maldives. 2
Do you remember learning, way back in science class in high school, that weather originates in ocean currents? This is the main part of Climate Change that people tend to be ignorant of. The change in ocean currents creates different, more severe weather patterns in every season. Think about each season’s typical weather being intensified. Yes, this means hotter summers (with droughts), BUT it also means colder winters (with blizzards)! There are also more hurricanes and flooding in parts of the world as well.
The idea that there is a debate on whether or not Climate Change is happening, caused by humans, and a severe threat to the future of humanity and other species on our planet is a MYTH. Almost all scientists are in agreement about the facts. Of course, some heavily funded companies (like oil companies) have it in their best interest to back media in opposition to the “lie” that Climate Change is real. Who is unbiased? Scientists, or companies out to make a profit?
“Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” 3
The other biggest myth is that we have time to make gradual modifications. This is simply not true. We (individuals, American companies, governments all over the world) must make large scale changes, and soon.
“Current data suggest that we need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in developed countries by at least 80% by 2050 in order to have a chance of staying below an average temperature rise of over 2ºC.” 4
That statistic and its implications are why I believe that protecting the global environment is one of the most important political issues of our generation. If we don’t act now, there’s no point in acting in the future. It will be too late.
NASA says “Humans have caused major climate changes to happen already, and we have set in motion more changes still. Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades if not centuries… There is a time lag between what we do and when we feel it.”
So what can you do to help? You’ve heard the phrase: reduce your carbon footprint.
“While big, high-tech items like solar farms or giant wind turbines get the lion’s share of the press, cutting greenhouse gas emissions will take myriad solutions, big and small. Changing a single lightbulb to an energy-efficient CFL might not seem like much. But over its lifetime it will reduce emissions equivalent to burning a 500-pound pile of coal. If everyone changed just one bulb, we could keep from burning millions of tons of coal.” 5 (Emphasis mine)
Are you with me? Let’s start making small changes to help prevent Climate Change and save our planet!
Are you someone who has doubts Global Warming and Climate Change? If so, did this article help you? What other facts or evidence would help you understand what’s happening on our planet? For more information, please visit this website: climate.NASA.gov
PS: Here’s a great explanation of how the ozone layer is connected to global warming (from NASA):
“…The ozone hole has been affecting climate in the Southern Hemisphere. That’s because ozone is also a powerful greenhouse gas, and destroying it has made the stratosphere (the second layer of the atmosphere going upwards) over the Southern Hemisphere colder. The colder stratosphere has resulted in faster winds near the pole, which somewhat surprisingly can have impacts all the way to the equator, affecting tropical circulation and rainfall at lower latitudes. The ozone hole is not causing global warming, but it is affecting atmospheric circulation.”
1 Good Housekeeping Magazine, April 2015 pp100-103
2 a collection of knowledge from my AP Environmental Science and Global Climate classes
5 National Geographic: Changing Climate, June 2008 p 49
Polar bear image from Google Images