You are on page 1of 11


Joseph Hussein
Professor Celestino
ENGL 1010
Tomorrows Future in the Balance of the Senate and House
Years back in my high school science class, we spent a whole chapter learning about
global warming and its causes and the effects on the world. Today it is no longer called global
warming, it is now referred to as climate change. The discussion on climate change has moved
away from the classroom, and has now even moved into the House and Senate for discussion. As
people have become educated on climate change, arguments have surrounded it and appeared in
legislation. Although many still argue that climate change is not happening, the effects are
becoming clearer each day with rising sea levels. It is more important than ever to talk to the
rising generation and to convince legislators to make changes now to protect the future from
further destruction. As the rising generation and legislators become educated on this issue, they
can change the course of the future today.
The first time I heard the words global warming was in middle school. Although that
was a long time ago, the class left a deep impression on me about how I was contributing to the
climate change crisis. That day I learned that climate change is a shift in the statistical
distribution of weather patterns over a period of time that could be decades or tens of millions of
years. Climate change is caused by many factors, one of which is the variation of solar
radiations received by Earth. The ozone layer lets only a small percentage of the suns light and
radiation to reach Earth. Due to large holes in the ozone layer, a larger percentage of light and
radiation now reaches earth. This light and heat is now trapped in the atmosphere by a layer

Hussein 2

known as greenhouse gases. Just as a greenhouse helps plants grow in warm conditions inside,
the greenhouse gas in Earths atmosphere acts like the glass walls of the greenhouse.
Greenhouse gas is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. In the last
two decades, results show that carbon dioxide contributes 72% to greenhouses gases (Hieb 3).
That is because human activities in the last 15 years have increased carbon dioxide emissions
into the atmosphere from 21.6 billon tons to 27 billon tons. In the last 5 years alone it has
increased to 30.3 billion tones worldwide(Olivier 33). Research continues to show that in
2007 America was, the leading country in carbon dioxide emission in (Tollefson 327), but
results now show that China is the leading country in carbon dioxide emissions. So today,
America is the second leading country in the world for carbon dioxide emissions in shear volume
and produces 5902.75 million metric tons per year (Motaal 471). To break down this statistic
further, there are 4 major categories that lead to this result: electricity 32%, transportation 28%,
industry 20% and agriculture 10%. The rest is between commercial and residential that take the
remaining 10% (Environment 160-166).
The American dream has been indoctrinating young Americans for many years. The
importance of school, and the motto of hard work, all seemingly lead to success. The American
dream has been idealized into owning a big house, a big truck, and multiple carsall at the
expense of climate change. A bigger house means more electricity to power the house. It also
means more and more land being cleared for residential and commercial development. Cars get
bigger, and so do garages slowly increasing the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the
atmosphere each day. Results tend to show carbon dioxide emission per capita which can be
somewhat misleading because these show countries with smaller populations. This is indirectly
related, because countries with smaller populations will have a higher percentage for carbon

Hussein 3

dioxide emissions but you should look for emissions by shear volume to keep the change in
Listen to talk radio and the news, the argument is contradicting to the results. A popular
radio talk show argued that climate change was unsound at least according to Glenn Buck and
Rush Limbaugh. Many in the United States believe that the debate over climate change is more
about science than policy. This is the argument with the policy makers of the country. They
believe this in part because one strategy among those engaged in policy debates has been to
cultivate the public perception that scientists fundamentally disagree on whether human activity
can alter the worlds climatic patterns. There is little doubt that we are hearing from an authority
on what scientists know and do not know about the atmospheric dynamic. What is the cause?
And what are the local and global effects? How do we know what is right? And conclusively,
how do we know what is wrong? To answer these questions the challenge lies in making policies
based on climate science. Unfortunately, the argument continues to center over whether climate
change exits. Both are unseen futures hanging in the balance of legislators making laws. At the
end, only two outcomes are possibleeach at one extreme and the otherfor or against.
The discussions will continue and neither side will come to a definite solution and agree
that climate change is credible in the future, even when the effects of climate change becomes
evident each day. For example, Earths average temperature has risen by 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit
since 1950(Larsen 33). While the world argues on the uncertainty of climate change, there are
countries that are literally going under water as a result of rising sea levels. I lived in Fiji and
New Zealand most of my life, and I met lot of people from Kiribati. I never asked why so many
of Kiribati people were moving away from their country and living in Fiji and New Zealand. I
just thought that maybe the island was small and there was not enough land for everyone. When I

Hussein 4

lived in New Zealand, one of my roommates was from Kiribati and we became good friends. It
was from him that I learned why Kiribati people were leaving their islands. They were not
moving because of increasing population like I thought, but because their island was going under
water. I was not immediately convinced with my friend story, until he showed me a Kiribati
Facebook group that discussed and documented the Kiribatis concerns for the rising sea levels. I
saw photos of the waves crashing against empty homes, flooding buildings like never before.
Kiribati and many other pacific islands all face similar problems from the rising sea levels. Even
America has seen the rising sea levels, as results show that the sea level rise[s] 3mm per year
(Larsen 670).
Sea levels can rise by two different mechanisms with respect to climate change. First, as
the oceans warm due to an increasing global temperature, seawater expandstaking up more
space in the ocean basin and causing a rise in water level. The second contributor to the rising
sea levels is the melting of ice over land, which adds water to the ocean. One of the most
pronounced effects of climate change has been this melting of masses of ice around the world.
Glaciers and ice sheets are large, slow moving assemblages of ice that covers about 10% of the
worlds land area. They hold the worlds largest reservoirs of fresh water, holding approximately
75%. The surface temperature of earth has risen by 4.5 Fahrenheit (Larsen 33). This small
temperature change in a sealed room is not even noticeable, but to the Earths atmosphere it is a
significant change. Over the past century, most of the worlds mountain glaciers and the ice
sheets in both Greenland and Antarctica have lost mass. The retreat of this ice occurs when the
mass balance (the difference between the accumulation of ice in the winter, versus melting in the
summer) is negative, meaning that more ice melts each year than is replaced (Iturrizaga 604607). By affecting the temperature and precipitation of a particular areaboth key factors in the

Hussein 5

ability for a glacier to replenish its volume of iceclimate change effects the mass balance of
glaciers and ice sheets. When the temperature exceeds a particular level or warm temperatures
last for a long enough period, and/or there is insufficient precipitation, glaciers and ice sheets
will lose mass.
Glaciers are melting around the world at an alarming rate. The Greenland glaciers have
retreated 8 miles from 1902 to 2001 the span of about 100 years. Even more alarming, recent
studies have shown that the polar ice cap has retreated 9 miles but this time in only 10 short
years, from 2001 to 2010 (Straneo). The accelerated melting has resulted in many polar habitats
being destroyed, causing animals such as polar bears and penguin colonies to reduce in number,
leading towards extinction. Sadly, in some areas the ecosystem is no longer even there. Native
whale hunting areas have completely washed away and as a result seen drastic losses in whale
Chasing Ice is the largest glacier calving event ever filmed. The event lasted for 75
minutes and the glacier retreated a full mile across a calving face three miles wide. The
height of the ice is about 3,000 feet, 300-400 feet above water, and the rest below water. It
was compared to the size of lower Manhattan with the height of the glacier being three
times taller then the buildings in New York City (Chasing Ice). The results are undeniable,
glaciers are meltingand fast. The repercussions of which will not only destroy habitats and
lead to extinction, but it will continually cause sea levels to rise, and land to disappear.
Due to the alarming rising sea levels, there have been multiple studies on the ocean
conducted by countries around the world. Millions of dollars have been used to research the
ocean temperature and the effects and changes it has caused to the worlds oceans. An
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that sea levels would rise by

Hussein 6

somewhere between 18 and 59 (Jones 301) inches, with a prediction that it will rise 1 to 2
meters by year 2100. This will affect about 187 million people throughout the world (Jones
301). If these predictions were in the stock market, there would not be as much of an argument
on whether to take action and money would be poured into investing in the futuremuch like
the way the United States took action with General Motors. Legislators are not coming to a
conclusion for future climate change conservation and sustainability, despite that the future of
tomorrow is hanging in the balance. There are five bills in senate already discussed with calls for
the United States to return to an international climate negotiation process (Issues In Science &
Technology 23). However, Senate representatives in Utah are calling for tough climate change
legislation. One reason for this is due to the bad air quality in Utah, one major cause being the
refineries surroundings major towns and cities in Utah and most of Salt Lake being in a valley.
In the end, the predictions are either true or false and legislators either take action or they
do not. Despite viewing climate change in this simplistic way, arguments in the United States
Senate are more about science than policy, and the debate goes back and forth on both sides of
the House with no conclusion in sight. However, there is a way to get even the most skeptical of
critics and the most passionate of activists to agree on something. The solution lies in seeing the
future in one of the 4 following possibilities:
1. Climate change is addressed and action is taken, but ultimately climate change proves to
be a false concern. The result would be billions of dollars in wasted money, and
increases in tax and regulations, most likely plunging the world into a huge global
2. Climate change is not addressed, but it does not really matter because climate change
proves to be a false concern. This would be the best-case scenario for everyone. A major

Hussein 7
epidemic would be averted, and there would be no wasted money spent counteracting
something that ended up having no major effect on our future.
3. Climate change is addressed and proves to be a real concern. The billons of dollars spent
on creating a more controlled environment would be money well spent, and because of
the changes future generations can look forward to having at least some sort of future.
4. And finally, Climate change is not addressed and proves to be a real concern. The result?
A global catastrophe, and in short, a hostile future (Greg Craven).

Although the debate for whether climate change is real or not can continue, looking at the
4 outcomes this way, it is hard to deny that we are gambling away our future hoping for the best
case scenario. If changes are made now and regulations passed to protect the future, we have at
least some guarantee that our future will not be hostile and catastrophic. Many countries have
started placing conservation laws on land, water, and animal species. A big part of the
conservation projects around the world include an initiative to protect the rain forest and help
prevent deforestation in many countries for timber (because all countries depend on their
environment). Forest, rivers, coral reefs, and other ecosystems provide food, water, shelter, and
energy for humans. These resources are under incredible pressure. A good place to start making
a contribution to sustainability is to limit ones impact on the environment by reducing the use of
non-renewable resources and to re-use and recycle. Countries, governments, and businesses are
placing a great emphasis on energy saving plans, including the use of solar and wind energy,
instead of fossil fuel. Planting trees and preventing forest fires helps to fight against
deforestation, and reduce carbon dioxide. Laws have been put in place on the amount of carbon
dioxide emissions large companies can have to help keep pollution the down.

Hussein 8
We live in a time where things are continually changing and so is the climate. The

environment around us is changing, and so we must take the steps needed to ensure the future of
the Earth. We have made many changes to the world in order to make it a more comfortable
place for us. These changes have created better roads, sewer systems, and clean drinking water.
We are also able to turn a hot day into a cool one, and vice versa with the push of a button.
Although these changes make life more comfortable, they are destructive in nature and
contribute to climate change. Humans are polluting and intoxicating the very air they breathe and
polluting the water they themselves drink. Soon low cost land will be under water causing many
to move due to the rising sea levels. Philosophers say, Prevention is better than cure and it is
true for climate change. The first step to solving a problem is admitting wrong. Arguments in
Senate can go on forever, with nether side coming to a conclusion until it is too late.
Bringing climate change discussion back into school is a start. Educating youth on ways
to prevent and to protect the future. Ushering in a life style change for sustainability. Legislators
of today need to move from the argument on whether climate change is real and place laws on
carbon dioxide emissions, the consumption of electricity per house, and the number of cars per
family. The future of tomorrow is in our hands today. However, whether this generation will be
known as the generation that fought for a better world, or the generation that destroyed their
childrens futureis yet to be seen.

Hussein 9

Works Cited
"Climate Change Bills Advance In Senate." Issues In Science & Technology 24.3 (2008): 28-29.
Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.
"Environment." Monthly Energy Review (2014): 157-169. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3
Mar. 2015.
Hieb, Monte. "Global Warming: A Closer Look at the Numbers." Global Warming: A Closer
Look at the Numbers. March 2, 2007. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.
Iturrizaga, Lasafam. "Glacial And Glacially Conditioned Lake Types In The Cordillera Blanca,
Peru: A Spatiotemporal Conceptual Approach." Progress In Physical Geography 38.5
(2014): 602-636. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.
Jones, Nicola. "Climate Science: Rising Tide." Nature 501.7467 (2013): 301-302. Academic
Search Premier. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Larsen, Curtis E., and Inga Clark. "A Search For Scale In Sea-Level Studies." Journal Of Coastal
Research 22.4 (2006): 788-800. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Apr. 2015
Larsen, Janet. "Ice Melt Alert." USA Today Magazine 133.2720 (2005): 33. Academic Search
Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.
Motaal, Doaa Abdel. "Emissions Offshoring": Repercussions For International Trade." Carbon &
Climate Law Review 5.4 (2011): 466-476. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.
"New Democratic Leaders Call For Tough Climate-Change Legislation." Issues In Science &
Technology 23.3 (2007): 23-24. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Hussein 10

Olivier, Jos, G.J., Janssens-Maenhout Greet, Muntean Marilena, and Jeroen, Peters A.H.W.
"Trends in Global CO2 Emissions: 2013 Report."
emissions-2013-report-1148.pdf. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment
Agency The Hague, 2013 ISBN: 978-94-91506-51-2 PBL Publication Number: 1148
JRC Technical Note Number: JRC83593 EUR Number: EUR 26098 EN, 1 Oct. 2013.
Web. 9 Apr. 2015. <
Straneo, Fiammetta, and Patrick Heimbach. "North Atlantic Warming And The Retreat Of
Greenland's Outlet Glaciers." Nature 504.7478 (2013): 36-43. Academic Search
Premier. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.
Tollefson, Jeff. "Countries With Highest CO2-Emitting Power Sectors (Tonnes Per Year)."
Nature 450.7168 (2007): 327. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.

Hussein 11