Predictions have it that Earth will run out of fossil fuels within 100 years. If so, there will be WWIII. The world’s powers will fight it out for the last of them. And then economies will collapse. Civilians will raid stores, gas stations, even other people for the last of them. And there is no backup plan. After this, there is nothing that can sustain us. Last year, according to The Week writer Ryu Spaeth in an article entitled, “Why it’s probably too late to roll back global warming”, the world pumped 38.2 billion tons of CO2 into the air from burning fossil fuels. That’s more than 2.4 million pounds per second. This isn’t harmless. It’s hurting the environment. Consequences will start to show up soon, but it can be limited. And with that limitation, doomsday predictions will not occur. Global warming does exist, and I’m about to prove why.
2012 was the hottest year ever for the continental US in recorded history by about a degree. And the last time that the US had a lower than average month was way, way back in December - of 1983. That’s thirty years ago. Extreme weather was the second worst, according to Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh in an article published on Jan. 15, causing billions of dollars in damage to the economy. Superstorm Sandy is the main disaster that pops up, doing a lot of damage to the Northeast, drenching the people up there with rain and flooding. Along with tropical storms like Sandy, wildfires and drought also helped cause the costly economical damage that we all saw on TV. Insufficient rain combined with a scorching dry heat has been leeching the moisture out of the ground in the west for the past few years, making it so that almost anything can light it up. All of this has been manifesting in the last 100 years.
Now, to silence all you critics who are saying, “100 years is nothing but a blip on geographical radar, and 30 years doesn’t show up at all,” apparently the earth is supposed to be in a cooling stage right now. Not happening. U.S. average temperature has increased by about one and a half degrees Fahrenheit since 1895. However, more than 80% of this increase has occurred in the last thirty years. That’s more than 1.2 degrees in thirty years. Not so much of a blip now, is it?
All of this heat is causing changes. In a Popular Science magazine, there was an article on the ice caps. According to it, the overall mass of the ice caps has been cut in two since 1980. This is leading to rising ocean levels and rising ocean temperatures, which fuel tropical storms and hurricanes, such as Sandy. A lot of experts at the time of Sandy didn’t think that it would be as strong as it ended up being. That was because the warm sea temperatures up there in the Northeast spurred it, gave it more muscle. According to Walsh, through the first half of 2012, sea temperatures from Maine to North Carolina had been the highest on record. Also, even though sea temperatures have been rising globally, they are rising three to four times faster there than in the rest of the world. Any of this alone might be ok. But together it all adds up and with it comes the question: Is there any way to prevent it?
Prevention of global warming exists. But, it requires immediate action. We’re almost too far down the road. According to Spaeth, scientists say that a two degree Celsius rise is what could start to spark a lot of radical, catastrophic environmental disasters. Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, states that a two degree rise isn’t the point, but the beginning of irreversible changes. “It starts to speed you towards a tipping point,” he said. “After three, four, five degrees, you spiral out of control, you have even more.” Still, preventing that is unlikely. A PwC study states that such a plan would entail cutting carbon emissions by 5.1% every year from now until 2050, which, according to Coral Davenport of The National Journal, is the same as ”slamming the brakes on growth right now and keeping the freeze on for 37 years.” However, that’s not going to happen. The U.N. has set a 2015 deadline for ratifying a treaty and a 2020 deadline for implementing it. We are already eight years behind pace.
A more likely option is limiting it to three or four degrees. Most experts think that that’s the best scenario. Such would involve focusing on building protection for cities, starting with coastal ones, from huge environmental catastrophes and disasters and limiting possible consequences of them. In this year’s WEF Global Risks report — developed from an annual survey of 1,000 experts in varying fields — respondents ranked rising greenhouse gas emissions and water supply crises as two of the top five risks most likely to grow over the next decade.
Global warming doesn’t just involve a temperature rise. Although that has a lot to do with it, it’s going to change the world as we know it. Economies will change, as they revolve around the weather outside. That weather outside will be frightful. Not frightfully cold, but frightfully hot at the lower latitudes. Some food won’t be available and others will be in abundance. There will be a global population shift to the poles, and Siberia might not be thought of immediately when the word “cold” comes up. Due to environmental change, our modern world will have to adapt to survive. Humans do seem to do that pretty well. We’ve survived through Ice Ages and World Wars. Who knows, maybe this won’t even be that bad.
Global warming does exist. If you haven’t noticed yet, It’s only a matter of time. I’m not saying that doomsday will arrive, but the world will change. Temperature, precipitation, and more will be affected. Maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. After all, maybe you don’t like the cold anyway.