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A Heated Crisis This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      Global warming has become a controversial issue, but for all the doubters out there, this is not something you should ignore. Global warming is real, but there are ways to slow it.

First of all, it’s hard to stop something if you don’t know what’s causing it, so I’ll tell you: the leading cause of global warming is carbon dioxide emissions released into the air. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which means it gets trapped in the earth’s atmosphere where it is heated by the sun, causing a rise in the earth’s temperature.

Even though you can’t feel the temperature warming on a day-to-day basis, proof exists that global warming has a negative impact on the environment. Since the rise of industry, temperatures have increased dramatically at a rate of almost half a degree a year. This may not seem like much, but by the time our children are grown, the world may be a very different place.

One very visible example of global warming is the rise of sea levels, which is caused in part by melting ice caps at the North and South Poles. When the temperature reaches above freezing in these areas, the glaciers melt, which has caused the average sea level to rise four to eight inches! If this continues, it would be catastrophic in coastal areas and could even make some island nations disappear.

Our world has the technology to stop this global crisis, but it doesn’t seem as though we’re putting it to good use. The United States is almost completely dependent on fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil to produce its power. If we decided to use only renewable energy resources, not only would we save billions of dollars every year, but we would not be dependent on oil. Although changing our ways may be costly, the money we save on energy would more than justify it.

Although you may not realize it, you can help solve this problem. This doesn’t mean you have to suffer by never turning on a light or not running your heat in the winter; a good start would be buying more energy-efficient products that improve the health of the environment without foregoing convenience.

There are many other ways to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions without giving up comfort. One is to replace older vehicles with more fuel-efficient ones, like hybrids. One gallon of gas burned in a car is equal to 25 pounds of carbon dioxide, so your personal gas emissions really do make a difference. You should also try to buy appliances that are energy-efficient, and unplug devices when you are not using them. According to Cornell University’s Mark Pierce, “Off doesn’t mean off anymore, but standby. As a result, we’re using the equivalent of seven electrical generating plants just to supply the amount of electricity needed to support the standby power of our vampire appliances when they’re off.”

It is estimated that if everyone in the U.S. started using compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent ones, we could reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 90 billion pounds, almost the same as taking 6.3 million cars off the road.

I hope that you are now aware of the situation and will start making efforts to save our planet before it’s too late.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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Aaron_L said...
Jul. 22, 2009 at 1:09 am:
hey, ryan, i appreciate your concern about the environment. i'm a 14 year old who shares your concern. However, some of your facts are wrong. For instance, global temperatures have not been increasing at 1/2 degrees a year. Also, we have so little knowledge of how the earth works that i do not believe we should jump to conclusions this quickly. I'm not saying global warming doesnt exist, i'm just saying i think we dont have enough research to jump to conclusions. But that doesnt mean we... (more »)
 
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