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Global Climate Change - Essay Example

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Summary
Although the subject was not part of the recent presidential debates, global climate change is the most important issue facing the U.S. and the world. Also refereed to as “global warming” the phenomenon is already taking its toll on the planet. …
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Global Climate Change

Download file to see previous pages... However, we’ve only seen a glimpse of what’s to come in both the near and far future. It’s not a myth as deniers would have people believe or even a debate to be had. The earth’s climate is warming and man-made air pollutants are the main cause. Factories and automobiles are spewing hundreds of tons of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere faster than it can be naturally absorbed. Air pollution is not only affecting people’s lungs but every aspect of the natural world as well. This warning has been sounded by climatologists for at least 30 years; the science has in, peer-reviewed and accepted by more than 98 percent of all scientists worldwide. The only question is do we have the political will to do anything about it. Carbon dioxide is the main “greenhouse gas” affecting the earth’s temperature. The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring event that provides a warm blanket of air for the earth. It had served the planet well for thousands of millennia but excess gasses are causing the effect to become unbalanced. In much the same way as a man-made greenhouse are designed to grow plants operate, the earth’s greenhouse allows in sunlight but just enough to keep the temperature steady. Gases, such as naturally occurring carbon dioxide and water vapor trap some energy but the rest is bounced back into space. Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbs additional heat allowing less back into space thus warming the earth at a faster rate than normal. Methane and nitrous oxide are two other types of gasses caused either directly or indirectly by man’s actions but carbon dioxide, the result of fossil fuel emissions are the main culprit. This pollutant accounts approximately 85 percent of the excess greenhouse gas. Oil and gasoline used by automobiles and coal burnt in electric generating power plants are by far the main source of carbon in the atmosphere. Methane results from cattle flatulence therefore the more beef people eat, the more methane is emitted into the atmosphere. In nature, animals, such as humans, breathe out carbon dioxide and growing plants “breathe” it in. This is not a contributor to climate change but coal and oil emissions are. (Walls-Thumma, 2012) Slight changes in the earth’s average temperature cause big changes in intensity and frequency of extreme weather events such as drought, rains, floods and tropical storms. With only modest temperature variations rare weather occurrences become more often and are more severe. Precipitation patterns are altered. Normally dry areas become drier and areas that usually experience moderate rains are deluged by heavy rains. Examining the way global climate change has altered the chances for a particular event occurring has been performed for extraordinary incidents such as the 2003 heat wave in Europe which left tens of thousands dead. The odds of this extreme heat wave occurring, based on records dating back 150 years, are about 1 in 10 million. (Shar, et al., 2004) When factoring in just a two degree temperature rise globally, the odds closed severely, more than quadrupling the chances. The intense weather occurrences that were expected to happen with greater frequency in a warming world are increasing. For example, just six decades ago record high temperatures were occurring at the same frequency as record low temperatures. Today, approximately two record highs are documented for each record low. That is phenomenal change and a clear indicator of a warming earth and the correlation of higher temperatures with extreme weather events. This increase in record high temperatures is occurring all over the globe. A comparable two to one proportion of record highs temperatures to record lows have recently been documented in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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