By Sam Gilpin ’17
“It’s cold today, global warming must not be real.” Many of us have heard this foolish argument before. However, despite such ridiculous allegations, numerous scientists agree that global warming is real, and humans are causing it. By definition, global warming is the slow heating of Earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere. Effects of climate change include rising sea levels, rising global temperatures, melting polar ice caps, increasing ocean acidity, and increasing extreme events.
The process of global warming begins as the Sun gives off solar radiation. Light colored surfaces, such as clouds and ice caps, radiate the heat back into space. Greenhouse gases trap the heat in the atmosphere, creating the greenhouse gas effect, which keeps the planet warm enough to be livable. Some carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is natural, but since the burning of fossil fuels, greenhouse gases are building up, causing more heat to be retained. According to the Natural Wildlife Federation, since the 1800s, coal, oil, and natural gas burning have emitted roughly 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide, half of which remains in the atmosphere and continues to warm our planet.
If we do not take precautions, global warming will destroy our planet.
Climate change dates back to the Industrial Revolution. Ever since we began burning fossil fuels, temperatures have been rising. In the past 100 years, the Earth has warmed by one degree Fahrenheit. In 2001 it was reported that by the year 2100 the Earth could increase by 2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit, making this Earth’s warmest period in 100,000 years. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate 100 times faster than when the last ice age ended. While a few degrees may not seem like a big deal, we cannot let these changes go unnoticed. If these trends continue, our planet will be uninhabitable sooner than we may think.
Moreover, deforestation is further worsening the effects of climate change. Trees and plants naturally absorb carbon dioxide and sunlight, helping to keep the planet cool. As we cut down trees, the carbon dioxide is left in the atmosphere, warming our planet.
Some may believe global warming is not real or a serious issue. Few scientists argue that carbon dioxide does not cause an increase in temperatures and is necessary for plant life. However, the Earth’s carbon dioxide levels are much greater than what is necessary for vegetation. They also say that our planet has a long history of warming and cooling patterns, and this trend is simply natural. Nevertheless, many points made by nonbelievers can be disproven. Critics are greatly outweighed by scientists that believe in global warming.
The human race has created this mess. If we do not take preventative measures and begin attempting to repair our actions, these patterns will continue and worsen. Reducing unnecessary energy consumption, capturing and destroying fossil fuels at their source by burying them under land and sea, using renewable energy sources, stopping deforestation, and changing our diets will make it possible to end this vicious cycle. This is our mess and no one is going to fix it for us. Earth is our home, it is up to us to protect it.