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Global Warming: A Theory or a Fact?

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Photo Credit Ashley Basford

Photo Credit Ashley Basford

Niagara Falls

Ashley Basford and Emilio Zipf

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Many people have contemplated whether global warming is hoax, and as time passes the intensity of this debate only grows. It is important that everyone takes both viewpoints into consideration before taking action.

According to NASA the cause of climate change is an increase in greenhouse gases, mainly methane and carbon dioxide, and pollution into the atmosphere which is created by humans everyday through activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, raising livestock, and slash and burn deforestation. As carbon dioxide and methane builds up in the atmosphere it causes the greenhouse effect, these heat-trapping molecules absorb heat energy reflected of off the Earth by the sun, and collect it, heating up the atmosphere and redirecting some of the heat back to Earth.

By analyzing shells in deep sea sediments and air bubbles trapped in ice frozen for thousands of years scientists found that the last 450 million years have alternated between cycles of warm and cool temperatures about every 70 thousand to 100 thousand years, due to natural changes in carbon dioxide concentrations. However, carbon dioxide emissions vary by about 120 parts per million over 80 thousand years, while temperature varies by about 12 centigrade or 53 fahrenheit in the same amount of time. In Hawaii the Mauna Loa Observatory has measured carbon dioxide concentrations since 1958, by measuring the ocean breeze off the Pacific ocean, unskewed by any nearby human activities by the island due to its 11,000 ft altitude, and upwind from the volcano, preventing any venting from the volcano from being captured. The present day carbon dioxide concentrations are growing at a rate of 1.6 parts per million a year, compared to the natural rate of 0.0000015 change in parts per million a year. Right now the average yearly rise in temperature is only 0.016 centigrade or 0.028 fahrenheit, which is much larger than the natural cyclical change in temperature of 0.00000015 centigrade or 0.00000027 fahrenheit a year. The major issue with global-warming is not the change in temperature or greenhouse gases, but the rapid pace that is it occuring.

It is likely the Earth will not be able to adapt to such a rapid change. It is unknown what exact effects are possible, due to the wide amount of intricate effects a simple rise in temperature of only a couple centigrade can cause. However, some changes have already taken place. NASA tidal gauges have measured an 8 inch rise in sea level since 1880 due to melting snow and ice. Carbon dioxide emissions have increased ocean absorption of carbon dioxide, increasing the acidity of the ocean by turning to carbonic acid, coupled with higher ocean temperatures is already killing masses of coral reef. While coral reefs cover very little of the Earth’s surface, and do not directly affect humans, this is one of the greatest effects of global warming. Coral reefs provide some food for one billion of the world’s population, buffers coastlines from dangerous storms, contains biodiversity of species that exceeds tropical rain forests, and has a worldwide economic benefit of $375 billion in goods, and ecological services. In addition, global warming will increase drought in some areas and precipitation in other areas, due to changes in climate. This is already stressing water resources in the Western United States, and increasing the strength of hurricanes and monsoons. Since the sea surface temperature of the ocean has been increasing by 0.1 centigrade per decade, intensification speed and chance of a record-breaking hurricane has increased. The number of hurricanes is unchanged, but more of them are becoming increasingly intense. Hurricanes so intense that they only occurred every century now happen every 16 years. Increase in temperature has allowed diseases such as West Nile, and Lyme Disease, which are spread by mosquitoes and ticks, to grow from only Latin American diseases to being reported around the United States and even Canada within the last 40 years. In the Rocky Mountains, forest area the size of Colorado has been consumed as bark beetles take advantage of warmer temperatures, increased wildfires and droughts. The most well-known changes due to the temperature changes is the loss of Arctic sea ice. Since 1980 sea ice coverage has decreased about 2 million square kilometers mainly causing the endangerment of polar bears.They use the sea ice to ambush seals, but when the sea ice melts too quickly they are forced on land, and do not have the ability to hunt terrestrial animals. This creates more interactions between humans and bears, which will be dangerously desperate for food. The effects of global warming are wide-reaching, and already occurring, so actions should be taken soon to prevent overwhelming issues.  

One could argue that our Earth is just experiencing a hot phase and that human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are too small to actually affect the Earth’s climate. In the last 450 million years on Earth, the temperatures have alternated between cycles of warm and cool temperatures about every 70 thousand to 100 thousand years. Which is proven to be caused by natural changes in carbon dioxide concentrations. Our planet rejuvenized itself before post major environmental damage, including the meteor shower during the Dinosaur age, ice age, nuclear wars, and many other times; therefore, the Earth can fix itself with time if we allow her time to heal. Before the ice age, the Earth experienced a hot phase which is proved through studies and experiments done by scientists. Scientists are not always correct on their evaluations, which is why we need to consider both options before we jump the gun and say that the world is ending due to global warming. Albert Einstein, considered one of the brightest people to walk the Earth, stated “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean the atom would have to be shattered at will”; however, just 10 years later, on December 2nd, 1942, the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated. This proves that even Albert Einstein can be incorrect; therefore, we must consider all data before we make a theory become an existing aspect in our Earth (Climate Change 6).

If Global Warming is a fact, they must come up with a solution besides “reduce, reuse, recycle” because based on our previous history, it is not improving the CO2 emissions as much as we had hoped. The only news we hear is considered negative and all the positive news is either crushed by higher influence that wants to feed the public specific news, or people feel it is not as important. We only hear about the amount of ice caps melting, and never about how much the ice is growing or how we only hear about school shootings, convicted felons, and other disturbing news rather than news about the good things happening in the world. NASA recently published a study that showed “an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers” (NASA 13).  From 1992 to 2001, there was a net gain of Antarctic ice of about 112 billion tons. Then from 2003 to 2008, there was a net gain of 82 billion tons of ice. Jay Zwally, a NASA glaciologist, states “we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas.” The data also shows that the ice caps are continuing to increase in size by about 0.7 inches per year and is taking away water at an average of 0.27 millimeters per year. James Taylor, President of Spark of Freedom Foundation, states “Total polar ice area – factoring in both sea and land ice – had receded by much less than 10 percent, but alarmists focused on the sea ice loss as “proof” of a global warming crisis.” If we only focus on the bad, it is obvious that we will see a decrease in ice caps, but we are not focusing on the total net calculations which are proven that we are still increasing in ice. “The ‘mainstream’ media is alternating between maintaining radio silence on the extended run of above-average polar ice and falsely asserting the polar ice caps are receding at an alarming rate.” states Taylor. The ice will continue to melt; however, it is not from global warming, it “ would merely illustrate that global temperatures are continuing their gradual recovery from the Little Ice Age.” They claim the cause of growing ice caps in Antarctica is an “ozone hole” over Antarctica; however, many say this is just placement for a hole in their theory (Bob Berwyn, Insideclimate News). Basically, the media has blown up the concept of Global Warming when it should not be considered a “critical” issue because the ice caps on Earth are still increasing. 

When regarding other environmental effects including hurricanes, depletion of the coral reefs, deforestation, and other harmful effects the Earth is experiencing, people who are against Global Warming believe that these effects are not affiliated with the theory of Global Warming. El Nino and La Nina have been proven to raise temperatures and this is not even considering the “super El Nino” we experienced in 2015 (Renee Cho Columbia University). A recent study has shown that La Nina is possibly one of the causes of warmer oceans which causes hurricanes to be more intense. It also states that “La Niña generates stronger trade winds, so the sea surface gets colder, drawing more energy (heat) out of the atmosphere.” So far, scientists have been unable to provide a theory on how the increase in temperatures will affect El Nino, or whether this theory is able to be proven. Thomas Edison once stated, “Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge.” According to Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory run by Princeton University, Global Warming and more intense hurricanes show some correlation; however, there is no evidence that supports this theory directly. Therefore, we could just be experiencing a harsher El Nino or La Nina.

Technology has increased dramatically over the course of humanity; therefore, we can not determine whether or not the warming of the Earth is apart of a cycle or an actual problem. In 1938, a guy by the name of Guy S. Callendar published a study that showed CO2 emissions cause global warming; however, many disagreed. The other scientists believed that the “natural fluctuations” cause a change in climate rather than C02 emissions. Instead of spending US dollars on studies attempting to prove that global warming is real, the nation should spend the money on environmental awareness and becoming “green”. The Earth is in fact warming, but whether it should be considered “Global Warming” is the question. Author Caitlyn Kennedy, in the NOAA newspaper, found evidence stating that “warming holes” are periods in which the climate has gradually changed from warm to cool many different times throughout the past decade. Some say religion dictates peoples views on this topic; however, based on the data shown is data table 2, one can determine that political parties are a major factor when deciding who believes in Global Warming and who does not. Republicans tend to be more skeptical on the topic whereas the Democratic party is rarely skeptical.

There has been an increase in college students choosing to study majors such as sustainability, environmental science, and more that focus on how we can change the Earth now with physical changes. For example, to help businesses to change their productivity arrangements and become more “one with the Earth”. Naval officer and environmentalist, Jacques Yves Cousteau once stated, “Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans”. The fact in the matter is that we cannot predict the future; therefore, we must do everything in our power to keep our Earth green. Until scientists can prove otherwise, global warming will remain a theory rather than a fact.

The Takeaway?

What we do know is that our Earth is in critical danger due to pollution, deforestation, and melting ice; however, the future is unknown. Whether you believe in global warming or not, you should do everything to preserve the environment because once we ruin what we have, we have nowhere else to go.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “To waste and destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them.”

 

Definitions:

  1. Climate change: a long-term change in the Earth’s climate, or of a region on Earth.
  2. Global warming: is the increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases.
  3. Slash and Burn Deforestation: areas are burned or cut down in order to provide clear farmland; however, it destroys ecosystems in the process.

 

Works Cited

  1. https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/climate_by_any_other_name.html
  2. http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm
  3. https://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period.htm
  4. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-overview/
  5. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-causes/
  6. https://climatechange.procon.org/
  7. http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-cycle
  8. http://www.climatecentral.org/news/the-last-time-co2-was-this-high-humans-didnt-exist-15938
  9. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/does-global-warming-mean-it%E2%80%99s-warming-everywhere
  10. https://www.nas.org/articles/Estimated_40_Percent_of_Scientists_Doubt_Manmade_Global_Warming
  11. https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/scientists-agree-global-warming-happening-humans-primary-cause#.Wiq_H5Dyu70
  12. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/decadaltemp.php
  13. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-study-mass-gains-of-antarctic-ice-sheet-greater-than-losses
  14. http://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/keeling_curve
  15. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2015/05/19/updated-nasa-data-polar-ice-not-receding-after-all/#486f6a3a2892
  16. https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/
  17. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/31052016/why-antarctica-sea-ice-level-growing-while-arctic-glaciers-melts-climate-change-global-warming
  18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/01/antarctic-ice-has-set-an-unexpected-record-and-scientists-are-struggling-to-figure-out-why/?utm_term=.579b792e9a71
  19. http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
  20. http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2016/02/02/el-nino-and-global-warming-whats-the-connection/
  21. https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/
  22. http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-locations/great-barrier-reef-australia.html
  23. https://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/global-warming/science-and-impacts/global-warming-impacts#.WjAE6pDyu71
  24. http://www.businessinsider.com/super-typhoon-haiyan-heads-for-phillipines-2013-11
  25. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/climate-change-bites
  26. https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/arctic-sea-ice/

 

 

 

About the Contributors
Ashley Basford, Section Editor
I’m Ashley Basford and I am a senior at Satellite High School. I usually write sports articles which are mostly on cross country or track and sometimes crocs because they are the best invention on the planet. On my free time, I run, wear Crocs/Chacos, watch the office, and of course look at animal memes...
Emilio Zipf, Staff
I am Emilio Zipf, a senior at Satellite High School. I write articles about student life which includes new trends, things that go on, and literally anything else. In my free time I like to run, and grow out my afro.  
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