What is Global Warming?
"Global warming" refers to the increase of the Earth's average surface temperature, due to a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Scientists agree that the burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal cause greenhouse gases to escape into the air and that these gases are causing most of the warming. Another cause is deforestation (cutting down trees). Trees soak up carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases, from the air There are already some changes happening because of global warming. Sea level is rising and some animals are already moving to new homes. It’s already too late to stop global warming completely. The effects could be enormous. Relative to the hectic pace of your daily life, global warming is a slow-moving problem. But that does not mean you should “wait and see” what happens. If we wait, we may be creating an unsolvable problem, an unstoppable climatic shift that could have devastating impacts in years to come. The majority of effects will be devastating to human and animal populations. An insecure food supply, increased frequency and intensity of storms, and rapidly rising sea levels are just a handful of the possible effects you will see in coming years. But it isn’t too late. You can even take action right now to help stop global warming! Destroying Earth As You Know It
it could make it so hard for humans to grow enough food that even wealthy people experience food scarcity. which may also be related to the thawing of arctic areas. Dangerous Weather Patterns Increased storm activity and intensity is caused by global warming. A mysterious spike in atmospheric methane was measured in 2007. We depend on a predictable climate to keep our agricultural markets and our economy as a whole stable. and the U. and will be. regardless of knowing if any particular weather change was “caused” by global warming. more devastating storms. significantly. In the future. and more severe and prolonged droughts and floods. or 1.The effects could be far greater than you imagine. Increased overall average temperatures cause more extreme weather. Canada. In addition. Temperature changes have been. you are likely to see the ravages of global warming induced weather on the economy become yet more severe in the future. Unstable Agriculture and Economy The price you pay for food is getting higher already as a result of global warming effects on agriculture. a few of which are not related to global warming. The overall trend is clear. Unfortunately. Global warming does not occur evenly across the world. increasing costs from these types of storms? Sadly. and thus more expensive. and as global warming changes these patterns. You may be contributing to a positive feedback loop whereby the warming of polar regions puts more carbon and methane into the atmosphere. Did you know in the last several years. the rate of carbon increase in the atmosphere is accelerating each year. A 5 degree Fahrenheit warming for the whole world means only 1 degree at the equator. much more extreme in the Arctic and Antarctic. What’s worse is that this is leaving many of the world’s hungry in a desperate situation. Global temperatures have already risen about . which may be causing an increase in methane levels in the atmosphere. the world’s economic and agricultural systems rely on existing patterns of weather. These changes impact ecosystems and the human economy. Severe drought and flooding will occur as weather pattern become more extreme. our ability to produce food is declining. Climate change makes our markets unstable.4 degree Fahrenheit.
. even insurance companies have faced regular. Prices are increasing for a number of reasons.S. thus causing yet more warming in an unstoppable cycle.8 degrees Celsius. but global warming induced heat waves have already been shown to reduce grain harvests in India. but 12 degrees at the poles. unable to afford adequate food. The arctic tundra is melting already. less efficient.
the number of people at a similar elevation is 8 million. For all of these reasons. All of this means an ever more dangerous future for your kids.Drought conditions have doubled since 1970. A Hostile Planet For Your Children A 20-foot sea level rise is likely if either the Greenland Ice Shelf or the East Antarctic Ice Shelf were to melt and slip into the sea. because as white arctic ice is replaced by dark water (or land. in Bangladesh.
. It could play a major role in the extinction of many species that are crucial to stabilizing the food chain that you and I (and countless other animals) depend on for our food. The changes have been extreme. Countless species will be wiped out if global warming continues unchecked. our planet absorbs more heat. Many plants become less productive or will not pollinate when it gets too hot.” The albedo effect of ice is believed to have had a major impact on Earth’s climate over the eons and the loss of albedo could accelerate the warming of the Earth significantly. Effects on Animals The danger to animals is severe as well. but even a relatively small rise in sea levels could have an enormous impact on people around the world. many animal species will be harmed. It will surely mean an end to the polar bear. 15 million people live within 1 meter of sea level and in India. For example. we should be concerned about the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food scarcity. Coastal areas serve as natural hatcheries for fish and are home to a greater diversity of land and sea creatures than any other ecosystem. the ice in the Arctic receded further than any of the climate models had predicted. The flooding of coastal estuaries by rising sea levels would have dramatic effects on animals across the world. in the case of tundra). You may think a 20-foot rise in sea level is unlikely. something scientists refer to as the “albedo effect. then the 20-foot sea level rise could come much sooner than was previously predicted. which depends on sea ice for hunting. The Full Effects on Humans If the current trend continues and warming at the poles triggers a positive feedback loop whereby more carbon and methane are released into the atmosphere. Such a change would inundate many of the world’s largest cities and much of the world’s most productive farmland. The reason for this is ice reflects more light and heat than do water and land. As sea levels rise and lowland coastal areas are flooded. In the summer of 2007. despite the fact that scientists have been predicting that significant rises in sea level could only happen decades or centuries in the future. This is significant. developing far faster than anyone foresaw.
and nuclear power. Researchers Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow at Princeton University have suggested one approach that they call "stabilization wedges. scientists predict that the Earth could eventually warm by as little as 2. hydrogen produced from renewable sources. Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases (GHGs) today. But what we do from today forward makes a big difference. Current concentrations are about 380 ppm. In addition. biofuels (produced from crops). According to the IPCC. There are many possible wedges. If global warming catalyzes further warming and melts all of the ice in the arctic regions and at high altitudes. natural gas. and politics are all important factors in planning for the future. sociology. There is also the potential to capture the carbon dioxide
. much more dramatic sea level rises in the future are possible. we'd have to reduce GHG emissions by 50% to 80% of what they're on track to be in the next century to reach this level." This means reducing GHG emissions from a variety of sources with technologies available in the next few decades. rather than relying on an enormous change in a single area. which means there isn't much time to lose.
Global Warming Solutions
What Can We Do?
The evidence that humans are causing global warming is strong. A commonly cited goal is to stabilize GHG concentrations around 450-550 parts per million (ppm). This is the point at which many believe the most damaging impacts of climate change can be avoided. and everyone can help. The Earth might even come to resemble the steamy planet that was ruled by the dinosaurs! The harm to human populations and civilization would be incalculable.The consequences could be devastating. Earth could be drastically altered.5 degrees or as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. but the question of what to do about it remains controversial. and increases in wind and solar power. They suggest 7 wedges that could each reduce emissions. Depending on our choices. including improvements to energy efficiency and vehicle fuel economy (so less energy has to be produced). and all of them together could hold emissions at approximately current levels for the next 50 years. sea levels will rise by 230-260 feet. Economics. or about twice pre-industrial levels. putting us on a potential path to stabilize around 500 ppm.
Is this possible?
Many people and governments are already working hard to cut greenhouse gases. the Earth would still warm by another degree Fahrenheit or so.
instead of asking for the heat to be turned up. · Plant a tree. Don’t use the machine for one item just because it’s your favorite shirt. · Take shorter showers. · Walk short distances instead of asking for a ride in a car. · Dress more warmly when it’s cold.emitted from fossil fuels and store it underground—a process called "carbon sequestration." In addition to reducing the gases we emit to the atmosphere. Use fluorescent bulbs in your room. Unplug chargers when not in use. we can also increase the amount of gases we take out of the atmosphere. Heating water uses energy. · Offer to help your parents keep the air filters on your AC and furnace clean. Increasing forestlands and making changes to the way we farm could increase the amount of carbon we're storing. Plants and trees absorb CO2 as they grow. and different communities will make different decisions about how to power their lives. · Wait until you have a lot of clothes to wash before using the washing machine. · Close the blinds on a hot day if the sun is shining in. Dress more lightly instead of asking for the air conditioning to be turned up. · Turn off your computer or the TV when you’re not using it. or use a fan. Some of these technologies have drawbacks.
. but the good news is that there are a variety of options to put us on a path toward a stable climate
There are some very simple things that everyone can do to help stop global warming:
· Turn off the lights when you leave a room. "sequestering" carbon naturally.