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Climate Change? It Exists.
Climate change has been a recurring controversial topic of today's political news. Some believe in it. Some call it a hoax. However, climate scientists around the world have given countless pieces of evidence that have supported the existence of climate change. Still, the growing environmental concern is ignored. As time goes on, the pressure to address this controversy becomes more adamant as a growing number of people are voicing their concerns in regarding troubling environmental crises. It is time for non-believers to open their eyes against the facts that support the existence of climate change and the destruction that comes with it.
Nearly, the most important thing to address is why such widespread denial of climate change exists despite climate scientists coming out with many new studies. In America specifically, the population is often split in politics on the topic of climate change preventing any progression in the debate. This could be due to the idea of the American Dream that is still prevalent today. The lush lands west that enticed pioneers in the 1800s created a culture of mass consumption that continued into today. It was far too easy with government enticement to lure willing Americans out west in search of rich, fertile land and mining towns only for them move on once the place was wiped of its commodities. Take-and-move-on was the pattern in American society, and it has continued in how some actions are done for the economy without any thought of the environment. The idea of environmental regulations cramps down on the economic opportunities that had once been and are still the driving desire of many Americans (Metzger). Then, when a denier can no longer go on with the nonexistence of climate change, they move onto their next claim that there is no connection between it and human activities. However, studies have shown that CO2 emissions increased rapidly after the Industrial Revolution. With a large percentage of the world being in the developing stage focused on a manufacturing economy, factories that are predominantly powered with fossil fuels are emitting a large amount of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that helps retain the heat from the sun to Earth’s surface. A jump in carbon dioxide emission therefore leads to a jump in the amount of heat captured in Earth’s atmosphere. This increase in temperature is concerning as it’s what causes ice to melt and threatens the natural pattern of earth’s climate. With the damage it does, it is paramount that climate change is addressed and combated against.
The increase of carbon dioxide emissions do not only provide a concern of temperature rises but also ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is when the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, as it is the main absorber of carbon dioxide, and causes a chemical reaction adding carbonic acid to the ocean (“What is Ocean Acidification”). While it is hard to determine the pH of the ocean from the beginning of time to now, in past years, studies have shown a decrease in pH by 0.1 which means a 30% acidification since the industrial revolution ("Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?"). This is a concern as the acidification of the ocean leads to an increase of carbonate ions that affect the shellfish and coral that live in it. This, in turn, negatively impacts fisheries and businesses that rely on the lack of quality species to sell in the markets. With more than 3.5 billion people relying on fish as their primary protein source, anything that could harm the ocean would bring devastation to those areas (“Oceans Facts” ). In addition, ecosystems are interconnected through a series of compiled relations. When one organism is severely harmed, the rest in the ecosystem are sure to follow. Another contributing factor to ocean acidification by carbon dioxide emissions is related to the rise in temperatures. An increase in temperature in an endothermic reaction, a reaction that requires heat to operate, like the ionization of water leads to a decrease of pH by adding more H+ ions to the ocean. With the ocean absorbing an estimated 83% of the world’s carbon dioxide, there is a large amount of carbon dioxide waiting to react to become carbonic acid (“Oceans”). Although the rising temperatures of the Earth does not seem to be much of a difference, nor of any importance, to some, the slightest change in temperature can also lead to the slightest change in pH which causes devastating effects to occur to the organisms living within it. With so much of the world being dependent on the ocean, the actions caused by humans for human benefit much also keep in mind the externalities that would also have a hand in human matters.
A devastating effect of the rise in carbon is the rising sea levels due to the melting of ice caps, glaciers, and ice sheets. Glacier National Park established in 1910 lost 70% of its glaciers while the remaining have decreased in size (Glick). The melted ice then makes its way in rivers that flow into the sea thus rising sea levels. This may not be a huge concern to some people because sea levels do increase and decrease naturally, but recently, the rate has differed from the patterns of the past two to three hundred years (Glick). The earth is 75% water and 25% land (“Ocean Facts”). Out of that 75% of water, only 3% is freshwater with 75% trapped in ice and glaciers (“Ocean Facts”). When the fresh water from the ice melts and run down into seas and oceans, it affects the ratio of salt to water in those areas changing the salinity levels. The species that live in those areas are accustomed to a certain way of living with salinity levels being a very crucial component to their habitat. When the salinity level changes due to a rush of freshwater entering the ecosystem, the species will endure a lot of stress as they try to adapt to their new home. Through the survival of the fittest, only some will survive and the loss in biodiversity would severely harm the ecosystem and make it much more fragile to changes. In addition, ice regulates Earth’s temperatures by reflecting the sun’s rays. With its loss, there are less factors that control the increasing global temperatures and contribute to a positive feedback that only leads to higher record temperatures and higher sea levels. This dismal event of nature is not so much as natural but the result of human self-centered actions based on only human life and economy. The important lesson to be learned from the past destruction of ecosystems is that while there were benefits from ignoring environmental health for human life and economical advancement, there were also devastating consequences.
A striking piece of evidence of climate change is the extremes in weather that have been documented as record highs or lows in recent years. The top 10 highest records in temperature has been recorded since 2002 along with record cold temperatures (Live Science Staff). When climate change was called “global warming,” many would declare, “what about this month? It’s recorded to be the coldest in the past few years.” When the ice caps and glaciers melt during the summer, heat moisture is added to the air and is pushed to mid-latitude areas where it can condense and fall as precipitation. When this happens in the winter months, it falls as snow and cools the region to record lows. While temperature does raise and lower naturally, as seen with the sea levels, the temperature has been raising at unusual rates diverging from the known pattern. In addition to temperature, intense precipitation and irregular rain patterns have brought distress to many regions. In the California region, a drought has severely harmed the population by placing strict water limits and placing farmer’s crops in peril against water shortages. Even if people refuse to acknowledge that the drought became as intense as it was, they cannot say that the drought affected their lives through the food and water supply. In addition, monsoons in India have been subjected to around a 5-10% change due to the added moisture in the air brought by the warming of the Indian Ocean (Turner). While the change may seem small, it is enough to cause flooding or droughts severely impacting local agricultural outputs and GDP. The climate is extremely fragile and can have dangerous fluctuations with only the smallest stimulus which is why it is important for the socially produced phenomenon that is climate change is addressed along with its consequences.
Ultimately, the time to accept climate change as a fact has come and is even more pressing than before. There are damages that may become irrevocable if the issue is not promptly addressed by all the governments in the world. It is up to the people, who the government is meant to represent, to call for reforms that protect the environment and prevent future harm to the ozone layer thus correcting the wrongs that created the global issue of climate change. Responsibility must be taken by the ones who are guilty of the crime against the Earth and their fellow inhabitants: humans. The belief that anthropogenic climate change being a false claim to hinder economic improvement must be left behind in the past and the idea of making green technological advancements be made the future. The Earth will be home for the next few million years, and it would be a shame to destroy it due to selfishness before its time comes.
"Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?" NASA. NASA, 23 Feb. 2017. Web. 12 Mar.
Glick, Daniel. "Global Climate Change, Melting Glaciers." Global Climate Change, Melting
Glaciers. N.p., 02 Feb. 2017. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.
Live Science Staff. "How Warmer Summers Cause Colder Winters." LiveScience. Purch, 13 Jan.
2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.
Metzger, Christopher. Email interview. 26 Feb. 2017.
"Ocean Facts." Ocean Facts. Save the Sea, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
"Oceans." WWF. World Wildlife Fund, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
Turner, Andy. "The Indian Monsoon in a Changing Climate." RMetS. Royal Meteorological
Society, n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
"What Is Ocean Acidification?" What Is Ocean Acidification? N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.