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The end... or the beginning?

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Earth. It is a beautiful planet, but what makes it stand out is that it is the only known planet that supports over 1 billion species of life, including human beings. Imagine every one of these wonderful creatures extinct. Most people become horrified at the idea, but little do they know that our own acts could bring about the destruction of life. Many of these people have also heard of the terms “Global Warming” and “Go Green!” but dismiss it as another fad that will soon be over. Few understand the dreadful reality. Global Warming, otherwise known as climate change, is the gradual warming of the Earth due to increased levels of carbon dioxide, and is caused directly by human activity. The main cause of Global Warming is increased levels of pollution in both air and water, usually from the smoke belched out from millions of vehicles and constantly poured out from factory chimneys. This increases the level of Co2, which traps the heat and keeps it from escaping Earth’s atmosphere. This is called the greenhouse effect. This increased heat can be life- threatening to animals, plants, and humans alike, such as the many recent disastrous heat waves.

The most recent heat wave occurred in the U.S in the year 2006. Hundreds of people died and even more were afflicted with heat stroke and other illnesses. The entire New York City suffered a power loss for a week. Crops withered, and wildfires raged across the country. An even deadlier heat wave happened in Chicago, in 1995. A total of 759 people died and more than 49,000 homes lost power, which meant no air conditioning. Later studies showed that if the air conditioning had not failed, hundreds of lives could have been spared. The most appalling and horrendous heat wave in about a century however, took place in Europe in 2003. A shocking 27,000 people were killed and a total of 45 million homes lost power. Climate change can have a very big effect on our lives.

Warmer climates are making it more possible for disease-carrying insects and animals to spread. The 93-94 Hantavirus outbreaks are a good example. Hantavirus is carried by deer mice, which have increased in numbers in the past four decades. There are also more mosquitoes in Africa carrying diseases such as dengue fever and yellow fever.

Global Warming can release its wrath in a different way. Scientists conducting a 2005 MIT study have deduced that for the past 30 years, the number of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, and their destructive potential, has doubled. Two hurricanes, (Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Charles), occurred two weeks after one another in 2004, and the deadly results of Hurricane Katrina only a year later is well known.

Global warming can also prove to be deadly to a wide variety of aquatic creatures and their homes. The increased carbon dioxide is making ocean waters more acidic, therefore increasing the endangerment of many ocean creatures. Seashells are slowly dissolving because of the acid, and creatures that have survived in the oceans for eons are becoming extinct. Coral reefs, which provide shelter and food to over 300 species of animals, are also on the brink of extinction. A 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit increase in temperature could cause the dying of 97% of the world’s coral reefs. This means that hundreds of animals will be left without protection and food. The coastal regions make about 375 million dollars per year on tourists who come to see the coral reefs. The loss of this income will bring America’s economy down to what it was like during the Great Depression.

Most of the Global Warming action has taken place in the Arctic and Antarctic areas. A recent 2005 study notes that a multitude of polar bears have been drowning because of longer distances to swim before they reach another block of ice. A twenty- year old record by NASA says that ice has melted rapidly in the past few decades. An example of this is the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf. This is the largest block of ice in the arctic, about several miles across. It has been around for 3000 years, but has started melting in the year 2000. Some scientists predict that every one of the world’s glaciers will have melted by the year 2070. If this prediction proves true, the extinction of about 235 arctic animals, including polar bears, penguins, and seals, could pass.

The melting of glaciers and ice sheets will add thousands of tons of water into the ocean, which will inevitably cause flooding. The entire Antarctic ice sheet itself is 25.4 million kilometers. Many scientists disagree about the amount of flooding and where it will occur. Some say that flood patterns will increase with Africa getting afflicted with floods in many more than other places. Others say that whole countries and maybe continents will get flooded. Few even go as far as to say that the whole world will be flooded, and the legend of Noah’s Ark will take place again.

No matter what transpires, it is evidently clear that Global Warming is a serious threat to the world. Scientists and inventors have worked together to create solutions, like the electric car. Biologists think they have found a way to replace fuel for cars with algae. Many other possible solutions are also being considered, but in order to thoroughly eradicate the problem of Global Warming, everyone needs to pitch in. Things as simple as not littering, recycling, carpooling, and buying reusable supplies can make a huge difference if everyone does it. This could be the beginning of a new age, of a cleaner Earth, with a plentitude of animals, and a much lower number of diseases. Slowly but surely, if each one of us works together, Earth can be a beautiful place to live in once again.

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Laugh-it-OutThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm
Very informative great job!
holly1999 said...
Apr. 1, 2013 at 1:40 pm
I really liked this. It's true that we should all be doing our bit to save the planet and this piece was informative but still interesting and beautifully written. Great job :)
Literature_DarlingThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 1, 2013 at 11:18 am
Very well written. A professor once told me not to turn anything in unless it was good enough for a newspaper or journel. Well yours is. It was informative, yet interesting. Great job!
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