The Debate of the Century

June 14, 2009
The topic of global warming is beyond controversial. While millions of people have accepted it as a sad reality, many others deny its existance all together. For some people, it’s just a way to stay “loyal” to their political party. As a general pattern, Democrats believe in its existance, while most Republicans challenge its validity. But beyond the political barriers holding back the restoration of the Earth, are many signs of just how bad our planet’s condition is, and how much worse it will become in future decades.

In history, there have been many periods where the Earth’s temperature has fluctuated, sometimes drastically. The “Ice Age” is a perfect example of that metamorphosis. However, with the profound discoveries in the past hundred years, it seems highly unlikely that the Earth’s temperature would change so much, and so fast, by coincidence. A common argument against global warming is that the temperature has ‘only’ changed by a degree or two in the last hundred years. That seems like next to nothing for most people, but in reality, it is a huge difference. The rapidly melting polar ice caps are just one of the examples of just how much of an effect a few degrees can have. Images from outer space show that the ice in the Arctic is shrinking at an astounding rate of 9% per decade. If the careless pattern of destructive emissions continues as it has been, the Arctic will be iceless by the end of the century. However, this does not mean that the ice will simply disappear. The vast amounts of ice contained at the North Pole will melt into the ocean, causing massive flooding to northern countries and raising sea levels drastically. It is obvious that just a few degrees change can easily, and drastically, alter the world as it is known today.

So how can this massive problem be fixed, or at the very least, slowed? There are two huge contributors to this destruction. One, is the meat industry. The unnatural breeding and raising of animals, like cows and chickens, is not only inhumane and painful to the animals, but it also emits more greenhouse gases than all the forms of transportation in the world combined. However, this isn’t the only way that meat consumption is bad for the Earth. Obtaining one calorie of meat expends more than ten times the amount of fossil fuels than the making of its vegetable counterpart. Not only this, but animals (only including those raised for food) produce 130 times the amount of waste as all the people in America. Those same animals also use a total of more than twice the water consumed by humans in the United States, before getting sent to the slaughterhouse. An even more direct link to global warming is the tremendous destruction of rain forests, used to raise cattle. The thousands of miles of trees destroyed not only interrupt the natural ecosystem, full of its own natural system of checks and balances, but it also leaves fewer trees to absorb the extreme amounts of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) produced by humans and animals across the world. A vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is not necessarily the only way to prevent this demolition. Eating just one less meat meal per week or only buying meat from local farmers are also ways that the situation can be improved.

Another large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is a little more obvious. In an era of Hummers and huge SUVs, the car industry is a more powerful competitor in the arms race that is global warming than ever. Toyota can be considered a godsend for environmentally conscience people who’s commute requires a car. The Prius is an amazing hybrid, with genious features, including using solar power to make air conditioning, and one of the highest mile per gallon averages around. There are many ways for individuals to lower their carbon dioxide emissions, like walking, biking, carpooling, and using public transportation when possible. These solutions also require less gasoline, which fashions the solution to yet another problem. A requirement of less oil would breach the dependancy of America on Middle Eastern countries, and lower the absurd prices of gasoline. If everyone did a few little things to help improve the world, global warming could easily be stopped, or at least slowed.

Global warming is a very serious, and very real, issue. Addressing possible solutions is not a matter of political righteousness, but rather of moral virtue. Fighting about its existance is fruitless and time-wasting. The important thing to remember is that something is happening to the planet, and if life continues on the way it has for years, there will be real, severe consequences. With major medical advancements happening more frequently than ever, and people living years longer than any other time in history, a clean and healthy Earth is indispensable in order for humanity to survive.


Bibliography:

"Global Warming Puts the Arctic on Thin Ice." NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council - The Earth's Best Defense. 22 Nov. 2005. 14 June 2009 .

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Meat's Not Green. Brochure. Norfolk, VA, 2008.





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