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Climate Change: Myth or Threat?

Imagine a world without glaciers. It may not sound bad, but if all of the glaciers were to melt into the oceans, there would be several wonderful places that would be submerged completely in water. Florida, Hawaii, parts of California, and many other places would be lost forever. This is where we’re headed; this is where Climate Change is taking us. If we are unable to turn this process around, the impacts will be devastating. Climate Change is a really issue and it needs to be addressed before it’s too late!

There are many factors that negatively impact the world’s climate. Some of the main contributors are greenhouse gases. There are several different greenhouse gases. The best known is probably carbon dioxide which is produced by fossil fuels, solid waste, trees, wood, and chemical reactions (Living Green: Pollution). Carbon dioxide is the biggest greenhouse gas contributor to climate change; it is the main culprit for global warming. Carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere and traps the sun’s heat in a process called the Greenhouse Effect (Living Green: Pollution). This causes an overall warmer planet because the heat cannot escape the atmosphere. Another greenhouse gas is methane, which is produced by coal, natural gas, oil, and organic waste (Living Green: Pollution). Methane is usually produced by livestock in factory farms such as cows. Nitrous oxide is the third main greenhouse gas, and it’s produced by agricultural and industrial activities, the burning of fossil fuels and solid waste (Living Green: Pollution). Another main contributor to climate change is our transportation system. Today, there is one automobile for every 7 people on the planet; 900 million of those are cars (Living Green: Pollution). Scientists expect 1.2 billion automobiles by the year 2020 (Living Green: Pollution). Airlines and ships are also big contributors. “One large ocean-going ship moving for one hour may generate as much pollution as 350,000 new cars running for the same amount of time” (Living Green: Pollution). Then, of course, there are factories and farms. Most factories produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is then released into the air; and farms are the main producers of Methane, due to the large amounts of cows and other livestock.

We may not notice it in our day-to-day life, but climate change is altering our world today. There are weather changes such as more intense heat and cold, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and droughts. We have recently had an earthquake in Japan, the 5th biggest ever recorded, and Hurricane Katrina had a devastating effect when it hit a few years ago. Could there be a connection between the climate and these catastrophes? “Of course when the oceans get warmer, that causes stronger storms. We have seen in the last couple of years a lot of big hurricanes. Hurricanes Jean, Francis and Ivan were among them. In the same year we had that string of big hurricanes; we also set an all time record for tornadoes in the United States… Before it [Katrina] hit New Orleans, it went over warmer water. As the water temperature increases, the wind velocity increases and the moisture content increases” (Gore). So if warmer water makes the storm more powerful, what effect will a warmer overall planet have on storms? Some people don’t believe in global warming, why is this? Well, since there are no obvious effects on our day-to-day life, some people don’t believe that there are any real threats related to climate change.

If we don’t turn the process of global warming around soon, it could drastically change the future of our world. If this process continues, there will be no more lowlands, and many animals will become extinct or endangered. There is more CO2 in our atmosphere today than there was at any other time in the last 650,000 years (Living Green: Pollution). “The point of no return is when the dynamics of the process take over and it is out of our control, we cannot stop it, e.g., the ice sheet disintegrating because of warming in the pipeline,” according to James Hanson, a scientist at NASA (“Quotes on Global Warming”). So, what’s the pipeline? The pipeline is the global temperature increase that is already locked into the system, meaning the rise in temperature that has already taken place. What is 350 ppm? “350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for CO2- measured in ‘parts per million’ in our atmosphere” (“”). Long-term levels of CO2 above 360ppm could have a devastating impact on ecosystems such as ice lands and coral reefs worldwide. What can people do to prevent this? Living green is the key to a brighter future. Using solar panels or wind energy, recycling and composting can help turn this around. “The good news is we know what to do. The good news is we have everything we need now to respond to the challenges of global warming. We have all the technologies we need, more are being developed, and as they become available and become more affordable when produced in scale, they will make it easier to respond. But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait” (Gore).

There is solid proof to the effect that climate change is a real and dangerous fact, and we need to do all within our power to prevent it from escalating. Several factors are contributing to climate change, making it worse. And even though we don’t notice it in our day-to-day lives, it’s important for us to recognize the subtle signs and listen to the scientists. We need to get everyone involved, and we need to work together to save our future. If everyone can be brought to awareness and realize the dangers of climate change, if everyone is willing to put effort into saving our planet, then we can turn this process around. Install solar panels to your rooftops or buy wind power; buy a hybrid car instead of one that uses large quantities of gas; cut back on meat consumption; do anything that could help turn this process around. Together, we have the power to save our world. If we all do what we can, the natural balance will return, and our children will receive a world that is not plummeting into a downward spiral. If that seems like something worth doing, then I encourage you to do all within your power to change our future, and our children’s future, to a better one!

Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now! said...
Dec. 12, 2015 at 9:43 pm
Wonderful flow
Malena said...
Oct. 15, 2011 at 11:00 pm
Wow, really good article!!! :) You made it easy to understand and didn't make it really freaking depressing!!! WELL DONE!
Starsparkle said...
Apr. 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm
Wow, Kiley! I didn't know you knew so much about climate change! I love the way you remind us that we CAN turn this around if we care. Thank you for facing the problems and encouraging us to do what we can now. 
Salem said...
Apr. 21, 2011 at 11:21 am
Well done Kiley! Nice summary, extremely important topic. :)
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