Is It Getting Hot In Here?

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Have you noticed that everything has been getting warmer, even the seasons? The winters are not what they used to be. You struggle to find that fresh patch of power to shred with the new board you just bought—snowboarding is tough when there’s no snow. Falls have turned into winters, and winters into springs, with so much as the blink of an eye. You begin to wonder if the four distinct seasons turned into just one. The constant warming of the Earth is making it difficult to enjoy those individual four seasons.

Global climate change is a giant issue that has faced every species for a while now. The rising of global temperatures poses threats to all species; although some may adapt and change to better survive in that climate, many will not survive at all. With rising climate temperatures, ice caps are melting, species are going extinct, and more greenhouse gases are being omitted into the atmosphere.

The Earth’s ice is melting much faster than expected. With this abrupt sea level rise, land will disappear, which will cause problems for land species and for us humans. Close-knit city houses will soon turn into beachfront property! Although this rise in temperature is not continuous, ocean temperatures have not stopped rising. “While there were signs of a warming hiatus in air temperatures from 1998 to 2012, the ocean continued to heat up, an equivalent of four Hiroshima bombs, per second, all day, every day. The increase is continuing as we load the atmosphere with CO2”. With more CO2 in the atmosphere, the ocean becomes more acidic, which causes marine life to perish. This plant’s oceans have made changes, that require multiple decades to make, with in as little as one decade, all due to the growing temperatures.

Imagine a world, in which people took action from the beginning to stop this change:

In the beginning, scientists would make the fact of global warming known. Politicians and those in power would make executive decisions to reduce the omission of CO2 and other green house gasses. These decisions would ultimately reduce the amount of green house gasses in the atmosphere; thus, allowing the world to thrive as it had before. Our oceans would be full of marine life—the oceans would not be acidic and species would not be going extinct due to climate change. Animals on land would not suffer from rising temperatures and the inability to adapt quickly. The only thing at work against marine life and life on land would be the natural food chain. People would become more eco-friendly and will be consciously aware of their decisions concerning the environment. Plant life would continue to thrive and produce more oxygen into the atmosphere. In the end, future generations would be able to enjoy this world as we have in the past.

Now, imagine a world, in which people did not take action in preventing global warming:

Oh wait, this is the world we live in today.

For those of you who do not believe in global climate change here are a few snapshots: in Pakistan and India, record setting heat waves killed more than one thousand people each; Washington’s Olympic National Park’s rainforest caught on fire, the first time in history; in July, London reached the highest temperature in the UK in history, which forced The Guardian to pause it’s production due to the computers overheating; California has bee suffering from the worst drought is has seen in history, which has caused numerous fires, and then California was hit with intense summer rains; El Nino has caused numerous hurricanes to hit the pacific, has changed the ocean’s natural currents, and has caused Puerto Rico to be under a strict water rationing. The warming of the water, in turn, means bigger storms. Bigger storms mean harder impacts on land. Which then means less chance of survival when closer to the oceans.

All of these disasters caused by climate change happened in the last seven months of 2015. These disasters in the last few months were all caused by humans pumping billions of heat-trapping gasses, (otherwise known as greenhouse gasses), into the atmosphere. Not only are theses gasses causing disasters on land, they are also causing problems for marine life. In waters off of Alaska, where Shell is planning on drilling, scientists noticed 35,000 walruses on a single beach. This shows that their natural habitat, sea ice, is becoming more difficult to find. With rising ocean temperatures in the north, marine life is migrating north. Great White sharks, which live in warmer waters, have been spotted off the coast of Monterey Bay, CA. This is the farthest north they have ever been spotted. Another species that has traveled up north is the Blue Marlin. One fish was caught over one thousand miles north of their native habitat. The year 2014 was the warmest year we have ever witnessed—temperatures reached 68 degrees C, as opposed to the year 2003, when temperatures reached 59 degrees C. This is phenomenal! If temperatures rise but 4 more degrees C, then life in certain continents would be nearly impossible.

We’ve all known what it felt like to be over heated. You feel sick, nauseous, and light headed. But soon, this feeling passes once you cool down. Imagine if you could not cool down. Imagine if the temperature out side was the same temperature inside, no matter the time of day. If there is no change, this will be a reality.

To make this issue really hit home, El Nino has brought warmer waters to Hawaii. These warmer waters are causing coral reefs to bleach. When coral reefs bleach, the algae are expelled from the coral. This is harmful to the surrounding fish because then they have little to no food to eat, and they eventually no longer survive. In 2014, Hawaii saw the first mass bleaching it has seen in two decades! Coral can recover from mild bleaching quite well; however, if Hawaii sees another mass bleaching this year, then this could cause severe damage to the marine ecosystem surrounding Hawaii. Global warming not only harms the fish in the sea, but also the coral and the algae, and much more.

With all this talk of global warming and climate change over the last decade, there has been little done to prevent it. Sure, people talk about it on a daily basis, but do those people who are in power actually do something to change the amount of greenhouse gasses going into the atmosphere? No they have not; at least, not until today. President Obama has opened up this issue to a new level. He discussed how climate change has harmful effects on our health, and that of other species, harmful effects on our economy, and on our security. Obama implemented a Clean Power Plan that aims to cut out carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 32%! This is truly incredible! This plan will “be like removing 166 million cars from the highway” (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-epa-climate-change-carbon-emissions-20150803-story.html). This plan also emphasizes the use of Nuclear Energy, which omits zero carbons into the atmosphere; thus, several nuclear plants in the US have undergone construction to make this a more efficient plant. Obama also touches on the health side of the argument. Obama states that asthma has greatly increased in the last thirty years, which places kids in peril. This plan is just the beginning of Obama’s plan to change the effects of global warming. Perhaps if Obama can move America to change, maybe the rest of the world will follow; thus, preserving the Earth for future generations.

Better air quality, increased energy efficiency, better energy security, new jobs, and improved health are just a few benefits countries would receive if they cut carbon out of their pollution and of the atmosphere. The benefits to cutting out carbon far out weigh the costs those countries would face.

Now, although global climate change is very harmful to most species and, ultimately the Earth, there are four upsides to climate change. The first is that some species will benefit from the warmer climates. For example, Australia’s gray nursing sharks are going extinct; however, with warmer waters, they are able to thrive and reproduce more frequently. Another species of marine life that thrives in warmer conditions is the Zebrafish; this fish is able to better adapt in warmer waters. The second upside to climate change is that there will be wine making in new areas. Although some areas will diminish in their wine making, others will thrive with the warmer climate. The third upside is that the Northwest Passage will open up for shipping and traveling. This reduces the travel time by about four days, which makes it much easier to travel in the northern hemisphere. And finally, the fourth upside to climate change is that some deserts will get greener. In other words, more plants will begin to thrive in desert climates due to the greater omission of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Plants consume carbon dioxide, thus, with more carbon dioxide in the air, the more plants will grow.

Global climate change and warming is an increasing issue among all species. Although there was little done in the past to prevent this from occurring, and also much skepticism, there are actions being taken to prevent Earth from further going down hill. With the facts and evidence of this change occurring, it is up to every individual to preserve the world so that future generations can enjoy and care for this planet as we did. Bottom line? It is up to us to make a change if we want to ever see those four seasons again.

 

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