Climate Change: the Lies and the Truth
Global warming is a politicized issue that is fiercely debated by both Democrats and Republicans, yet because global warming is not the problem, it should not be a determining factor in the discussion over climate change. Because “to a scientist, global warming describes the average global surface temperature increase from human emissions of greenhouse gases,” global warming is not an all-inclusive term (Conway). Actually, it is only one small piece of the real issue, climate change. Climate change addresses not only global warning but also all the other effects of a drastically changing climate. These effects of adverse climate change caused by mankind’s activities will alter earth’s usual climate cycles. Because climate change is already starting to effect Americans, they need to be aware of the changes that need to be made to resolve the coming problems.
Climate change is the ever evolving and changing patterns of weather on earth due to natural and human causes. Since “fossil evidence clearly demonstrates that Earth’s climate can shift gears within a decade…,” scientist know that it is natural for earth’s climate to vary (Gagosian). These continuous natural fluctuations are not the problem. The problem lies in the fact that these changes are being exacerbated by human activity which can be seen by the fact that “CO2 levels are increasing primarily because of the use of fossil fuels, with deforestation and other land use changes also making a contribution” (Highlights of National Academies Reports: Understanding and Responding to Climate Change). The scientific community, through research, is beginning to see and hypothesize problems that this increased climate change is and will cause. The main results of climate change that scientist concentrate on monitoring are global warming, ocean acidification, and rising sea levels. Each of these issues will result in many added detrimental effects of climate change, but by using these issues, scientist are provided an overview of climate change as a whole that is easily comparable.
The possibility of global warming proves that humans could potentially cause drastic changes to earth’s climate. Global warming is a pattern of rising temperatures across the earth that is predicted to cause extreme weather conditions. Because of the severe risk that this issue would ensue, Americans are very passionate about this issue which makes it an exceedingly controversial topic. News sites picture America as a frenzy of contradiction while the earth is on the brink of disaster. The Democratic Party is depicted as over exaggerating and falsifying data for personal gain, and the Republicans are smeared as selfish and uneducated because of their skepticism. American politicians are known for manipulating paramount issues for political gain, so the question is who is right? Shockingly enough, both parties’ stances and beliefs on global warming are wrong, yet both are partially right. Since rumors of fraudulent data has come to light, the Republicans are right to be skeptical of the democrat’s agenda with global warming, yet they are wrong to use this to ignore climate change as a whole. Democrats are right that climate change exists, but because their platform is pushing global warming, true climate change issues and solutions are being overlooked.
In the past few years, more and more people are questioning global warming, yet the news networks and scientist seem to be covering this fact up. This skepticism first started when president, George W. Bush, conveyed doubts about the issue, and people started to question the scientific data on global warming. Then, in 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was caught red handed. The temperature data for New York when originally recorded and talked about in the news showed that the winter of 2013 was one of the coldest winters in many years, but when people went back to look at the data trends on NOAA’s website, the information had been altered. It became evident that “…NOAA purposefully ‘cools’ the historical monthly figures prior to 1951 then purposefully “warms” the historical monthly records after” (Davison 20). According to Davison, NOAA claims that in recent years weather stations over heated and they adjusted the data accordingly, but many people believe this proves that global warming does not exist.
At the moment, it is becoming increasingly hard to say whether global warming exists or not, but the debate on global warming should not be a reason to dismiss the whole issue of climate change. Global warming is one little facet of the possible results and effects of man induced climate change, and it pales in comparison to the other aspects that are already affecting the earth. Besides, even if global warming is not happening now, it will if society continues down this path. The earth has natural boundaries already in place to account for natural climate change to keep it in a normal range, and there is a breaking point that will induce far worse than just global warming. The best thing we can do is to protect and monitor these environmental thresholds that are in place to neutralize dramatic changes.
The oceans play a key role in earth’s climate, and they are one of the key components of the biological barriers to extreme climate change. According to Gagosian, the oceans are the biggest threshold to large global change. Drastic changes in climate in the past have been due to the “… swift reorganization of the ocean currents circulating around the earth” (Gagosian 3). “These currents, collectively known as the Ocean Conveyor, distribute vast quantities of heat around our planet, and thus play a fundamental role in governing Earth’s climate” (Gagosian 3). Ocean currents and properties of the water have significant importance as well as they greatly impact rainfall and storms. If this conveyor of ocean currents was to shut down like in the past, it would lead to devastating and irreparable climate change and possibly another ice age. Since not much is studied about the importance of the ocean, scientist cannot positively say what the threshold limit is that will break the conveyer, but they through close monitoring they will know if it ever gets close. The problem is, even after people stop pushing the thresholds and protection already in place, the effects will continue for a while until the system evens itself out again. This is why it is important for Americans and all humankind to start stopping the dangerous effects now so that there is no chance of the threshold being reached. Once the climate is changed by the ocean, there is no going back. It could happen tomorrow or in fifty years, and if Americans do not want to live with the repercussions, they need to start encouraging government representatives to do what they can now.
One negative affect of an extreme excess of carbon dioxide being produced is ocean acidification. According to the Ocean Portal Team, “At least one-quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released by burning coal, oil and gas doesn’t stay in the air, but instead dissolves into the ocean” (“Ocean Acidification”). Normally, this intake of carbon dioxide is good because it allows plants in the water to use more carbon dioxide to produce more oxygen, and this influx of oxygen allows the ocean to absorb more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Important aspects of the ocean like this create a buffer so that everything stays in balance, but according to the Ocean Portal Team in “Ocean Acidification,” the ocean is taking up too much carbon dioxide in some parts of the ocean. This over influx is causing the carbon dioxide to be turned into carbonate in increasing amounts overflowing the normal extent. Carbonate is good in the fact that the carbonate ion allows sea creatures to make their shells, but with this influx, carbonic acid is being formed in great amounts which the marine life cannot use. This acid is increasing the acidity of the ocean as a whole which in its beginning stages is having both positive and negative effects for different creatures. While the true future effects to overall sea ecosystems are unsure, if this acidification continues it will affect the fundamental properties of the ocean will change which will affect the conveyor. Americans can help stop this by “…regrowing mangroves, seagrass beds, and marshes” while also stopping the death of phytoplankton from pollution. By using these solutions, America can help neutralize the carbon dioxide influx and stop the acidification of ocean areas near the United States which will help stabilize the conveyor.
Another effect of the increased carbon dioxide uptake into the ocean is rising ocean levels. The changing of ocean properties in small sections of the ocean has caused currents to “push water towards or away from the coast” which has led to tides changing. The higher sea water in some locations has cause washing away and flooding of lower land masses, but this by itself would seem like normal fluctuations. As the Ocean Portal Team points out, the “first signs of sea level rise will be increased damage from hurricanes and other storms and even high tides” which is already being seen (“Sea Level Rise”). This effect, coupled with the fact that in recent years it seem as if major storms are increasing, is leading to disastrous results, and with the acidification of the ocean increasing, this pattern will only worsen.
The other major neutralizer on the earth for climate change is the trees. They absorb carbon dioxide from the air like the ocean does, but trees recycle it and produce oxygen. By cutting down the rainforest and urbanizing the earth, humans are killing a natural backstop for climate change. Because more is known about trees and they are easier to control than the ocean, they could be used as a major solution to human induced climate change. An experiment in the capital city of Indonesia showed that one solution “to maintain and control the concentration of CO2 is to increase the area of green open space” which will neutralize the large amounts of carbon emissions in cities (Febriani, et al 1). Another plus to forest in cities is that “the availability of green open space will maintain health and comfort for the community” (Febriani, et al 2). By using trees to stop the human induced growth of carbon emissions, Americans will not only prevent global warming but detrimental ocean effects as well because trees would lighten the ocean’s carbon load.
Since humans are only intensifying natural climate change, Americans and people across the world can use the solutions already in place on earth to combat the issue. While everyone across the globe is starting to feel the effects of destructive climate change, it is easy for some to remain skeptical. Fraudulent data findings are scary, but misguided people use real issues for personal gain all the time like in race issues. Americans should not dismiss the real problem just because it is politicized. The nation needs to be aware of the fact that irreversible changes are coming soon. If the people and scientist in America do not put politics and ambitions aside to protect and build up earth’s natural boundaries, the thresholds of earth may be surpassed, and people today and the coming generations will all pay the price.
There are still people who believe that it will not affect them so why should they care? The results of messing with earth’s boundaries is already being seen today, and even if the world stopped human induced climate change right this minute, the effects of the damage already done will have to run its course. Even “the loss of biodiversity, the greatly amplified global circulation of bioactive nitrogen compounds, and human-induced climate change have already reached levels that are apparently unsafe,” and a global epidemic from an infectious disease could break out easily in coming years (McMichael 1). If Americans want to continue to live on the earth with decent conditions now or at all in the future, then, they need to start staying up to date on the issues and working as a nation to fix the damages of human activity.
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