Ihrig !1 Oliver Ihrig AP Language and Composition 10 March 2017 The Battle Against Global Warming Global warming has been the center of debate for many years now with many people arguing if it truly poses a threat to the earth and even mankind. Global warming, also known as climate change, is when gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and many others, are emitted into the earth's atmosphere. Known as greenhouse gases, they are the product of mankind's massive energy plants, factories, cars, and even fertilizers that result in huge amounts of air pollutants daily. These gases then contribute to the greenhouse effect, which is process of the earth's atmosphere trapping heat from the sun. By adding more and more of these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are in turn increasing the temperature of the earth's surface. On top of the that, deforestation has helped contribute to this global warming crisis. Billions of trees are being cut down leaving behind massive amounts of carbon dioxide unable to be converted into oxygen. If something is not done to fight climate change then the rapidly rising temperature could result in many problems for the environment and even mankind, causing the sea level to rise which could devour small islands, contributing to more frequent and worse droughts which could lead to mass famines, and more intense hurricanes which could obliterate cities; leading many to question, If global warming poses such a threat then why isn't it dealt with? Because it is such a controversial topic, there are people on both sides of this issue. Including those who believe that global warming is a radical idea and doesn't pose any serious threat but only has the potential of ruining the US economy if acted upon. Unfortunately, many of these same people are
Ihrig !2 the ones who work in Washington, avoiding any type of legislation having to do with addressing climate change and only labeling it "radical" or "tree-hugging" before tossing it in a trashcan besides there desks. We have already seen the effects of global warming through animal behavior as well as temperature and whether patterns. In order to eliminate the problem of global warming governments need to first, recognize that global warming poses a threat to the earth, and then take necessary steps to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases as well as address deforestation. We must understand that future generations will suffer if actions are not made to combat global warming. The Greenhouse effect occurs naturally due to the ozone layer in our atmosphere, which traps the heat from the sun. The ozone is essentially a greenhouse gas that is constantly destroyed and produced, regardless of human activity. However, humans have added to the production of ozone by releasing gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide into the earth's atmosphere (IPCC). Furthermore, because the amount of these greenhouse gases being emitted is so high, from burning coal and fossil fuels, not only have these gases increased the temperature, but they have also accelerated it. Since the last Ice Age ten thousand years ago, average global temperatures have risen about 5°C (9°F). Over the last century, however, the pace of global warming has accelerated, with temperatures worldwide increasing 0.7°C (1.3°F). Some scientists have predicted that temperatures will continue to rise about 0.3°C (0.5°F) or more every ten years (Global Warming). This acceleration of the temperature could be problematic if something is not done to address global warming. The continued emission of carbon dioxide and other gases will bring the
Ihrig !3 consequences of global warming upon us faster. The change in temperature has already had a negative effect on the habitats of many wildlife species. It is predicted that "30 per cent of landbased bird species could become extinct if temperatures continue to rise" (BBC Bitesize). Global warming is causing their once suitable homes to be unfit places to live, and causing them to migrate. Many species such as foxes, butterflies, and alpine plants, are moving towards colder climates because of this phenomenon. The effects that the temperature change is having on animals already is quite alarming. It shows that just a minuscule change in degrees can have a massive backlash on a whole ecosystem. So what does it matter to us humans? The increasing temperature could result in some serious issues such as many natural disasters. For example, global warming is being identified by many scientists as the main reason glaciers in the north and south poles are melting and therefore increasing the sea level, which means that "many coastal areas around the world could face severe flooding" (Global Warming). One such affected area is the island of Kiribati, which is a a country made up of 32 atolls and 1 raised island. Anote Thong, the president of Kiribati told The Telegraph, "Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages" (Chapman). Most of the country's population has relocated onto Tarwana, the capital and center of the nation, to escape the risk of flooding. Recently, president Thong has purchased 5,000 acres of land for people who have been affected by the flooding to relocate (Chapman). As a result of global warming, these people are being forced to leave their homes in fear of flooding. Soon, the island nation of Kiribati will be gone because of the rising tides. The sea level has already risen eight inches since 1880 and it is projected to rise another 4 feet by 2100 (The Consequences of Climate Change). In the near future, because global warming is accelerating,
Ihrig !4 many cities in coastal regions will be at risk of flooding causing more and more people to relocate, just like much of the Kiribati people. Not only that, but global warming could also result in more frequent and intense droughts. It is predicted that "by the end of this century, what have been once-in-20-year extreme heat days (one-day events) are projected to occur every two or three years over most of the [United States]" (The Consequences of Climate Change). These droughts could lead to famine, and with the growing world population making it harder to produce enough food to survive. "Climate change is expected to lower grain yields and raise crop prices across the developing world, leading to a 20-percent rise in child malnutrition. [...]Wheatgrowing regions of South Asia, Europe and Central Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, [...] are projected to decline by 46, 47, and 35 percent, respectively" (Block). These developing countries close to the equator are already low on food. As global warming gets worse, so does their problem. Soon the impoverished people in developing countries will not be able to eat. Hurricanes are also said to become more violent. While, it is too early to tell if human activities have altered hurricanes or cyclones in any impactful way, scientists predict that the changes caused by global warming may have already occurred (Global Warming and Hurricanes). Already "the frequency of the strongest (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes, have all increased since the early 1980s" (Global Climate Change: Effects) and it is only getting worse. A 10-15% increase of rainfall is expected by the end of the 21st century (Global Warming and Hurricanes). These natural disasters caused by global warming could severely affect mankind. On top of that, the destruction of all these natural disasters will cost a lot of money. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "in 2015 there were 10 weather and climate disaster events in the United States â€”including severe storms, floods, drought, and wildfiresâ€”[...]
Ihrig !5 caused at least $1 billion in losses" (Denchak). In comparison, the amount of losses from natural disasters from 1980 to 2015 was around 5.2 billion dollars. To spend that much money in one year alone could be detrimental to the already high debt of the United States. These consequences, will not affect us now, but future generations will be at risk from our actions. It is not fair to leave future generation in a world of horrible natural disasters because we have not taken care of the earth. We must realize that as long as we continue to ignore the clear evidence of climate change then we are dooming our predecessors. At this rate by the end of the century we will have cities flooding, low amounts of food, and people dying. The economy will also suffer because of the billions of dollars that will be spent in hope of trying to fix these consequences. It is crucial to start the fight against global warming before it is too late. It is up to the federal government to address global warming, and regulate emissions and Deforestation to ensure a better future for our children and there children to come? The horrible consequences from our ignorance of global warming could be damaging to human kind as a whole. If something is not done at a federal level to account for climate change then future generations may be at risk of flooding, intense hurricanes, and droughts. Countries need to be aware that this is a serious issue, that deserves much time and research. While several industrial countries have recognized the existence of global warming as a serious threat, they simply are not taking the necessary steps in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses. "In December 1997, more than 150 countries meeting in Kyoto, Japan, signed an agreement to combat global warming [...] [,However,] not a single industrialized country has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise" (Cooper). One such country was the United States, who is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and has
Ihrig !6 done very little to reduce them. Says James E. Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies,"The United States has ignored energy efficiency in the last decade and put itself in a position where it can't meet the goals in an economically reasonable way" (Cooper). The United States, as well as many other countries, are already at a disadvantage in the fight to stop global warming. In order to find a solution, actions need to be taken soon. However, it is important that actions are approached in the right way to be effective, without putting the economy at risk. Ultimately, to completely stop global warming would require the entire world to switch from a carbon based source of fuel to cleaner and more renewable sources of energy. However, "many experts say advanced industrial economies like the United States will need time to complete such a fundamental overhaul" (Cooper). Therefore, in the meantime, a more cost effective way of keeping down emissions would be to implement emissions trading, which would allow "countries that have emission units to spare - emissions permitted them but not 'used'- to sell this excess capacity to countries that are over their targets" (Emissions Trading). Allowing this would be more beneficial to the industrialized economies that are falling behind on controlling their emissions. Rather than a tax on greenhouse gases, which would merely penalize a countries for exceeding their emissions cap, emissions trading would encourage a country to regulate their emissions by rewarding them the opportunity to sell their excess emissions capacity to other countries. In a sense, it is making these countries compete. The countries that are able to stay below their emissions cap can make money by selling to those countries who do not regulate their emission in an effective and efficient way. As well as decreasing emissions, limiting deforestation is also a prime goal to fight global warming. Forests, such as the Amazon, absorb nearly "2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide " each year, which accounts for twenty percent
Ihrig !7 of manmade emissions of greenhouse gases (Oskin). The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization warned that "deforestation is occurring at the 'alarming rate' of about 32 million acres per year" (Disappearing Forests). If deforestation continues the way it is today, 40% of the Congo Basin and the Amazon rainforests will be destroyed by 2050 (Disappearing Forests). The temperature will then continue to accelerate and in turn bring the consequences of global warming upon us even faster as a result. According to Risto Seppälä, former president of the IUFRO, " 'We normally think of forests as putting the brakes on global warming but, in fact, over the next few decades, damage induced by climate change could cause forests to … do more to accelerate warming than to slow it down' " (Disappearing Forests). What Seppälä means by "damage" here is a phenomenon known as "carbon bombs". When trees are cut down they can release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming. These "carbon bombs" could be detrimental because they could exacerbate the effects of climate change and result in further deforestation. "Roughly half the weight of a tree is stored carbon, which is released when the tree rots, burns or is otherwise destroyed. The carbon then combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide" (Disappearing Forests). We are assisting in the destruction of the world when we cut down trees by contributing to global warming. Tons of carbon dioxide is released when we cut down millions of trees. However, a simple solution to combat deforestation would be to plant trees. By simply planting trees immediately after an area of forest has been affected "it can actually reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as growing trees absorb more carbon dioxide" (Global Warming). Thus, logging can indeed slow the process of global warming. The problem is that when these forests are destroyed, many times they are not replaced with new trees. As long as governments place laws and regulations on
Ihrig !8 logging companies to take initiative in an effort to combat global warming by planting trees in the affected forests, then deforestation could actually help combat global warming. Global warming can be defeated, but the fight must start now. It is important to recognize the severity of the consequences global warming can have, and put plans into action in hope of preventing them from affecting the future generations that follow. Sadly, there are many people who disagree about the severity of global warming. They do not believe that even a minute temperature change can play such a big role in the earth's ecosystems. Some people even refuse to accept that humans are directly responsible for worsening the state of climate change. They believe that it is something that occurs naturally; since the ice age the earth's surface temperature has increased. While it is certainly true that "much of this increase [in temperature] is due to natural occurrences, such as gradual shifts in the earthâ€™s axis and volcanic activity", there is no arguing that mankind is responsible for emitting greenhouse gases which are accelerating the temperature (Global Warming). "In general, climate changes prior to the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s can be explained by natural causes, such as changes in solar energy, volcanic eruptions, and natural changes in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. Recent climate changes, however, cannot be explained by natural causes alone" (Causes of Climate Change). Mankind is to blame for the rate climate change is accelerating because natural occurrences can not account for the massive temperature change that has occurred since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Volcanic Eruptions and shifts in the earth's axis are too minuscule in comparison to the massive amounts of carbon dioxide that modern factors emit into the earth's atmosphere. The temperature of the atmosphere is increasing at a higher rate with each passing year. Ever since energy sources, such as coal, have come into
Ihrig !9 favor there has been a noticeable difference in the earth's surface temperature. "According to widely accepted meteorological evidence, the average global temperature has risen about 1 degree Fahrenheit since the turn of the century. Scientists are now predicting an additional 2-7 degree rise in the 21st century if current trends continue unchecked" (Cooper). Another claim by those who don't see global warming as a threat is that plants absorb the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere naturally. As we continue to burn fossil fuels, plants should continue to absorb the carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. "The earth's vegetation releases and absorbs more than two hundred billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year" (Global Warming). However, the added amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the burning of fossil fuels adds up to "seven billion metric tons per year" (Global Warming). Plant life is not able to account for the extra amount carbon dioxide that is being artificially produced from humans. Especially with deforestation on the rise, trees are not able to help take away some of the carbon dioxide that has been emitted into the atmosphere. That is why addressing deforestation is so important because trees accounts for over 20% of human made carbon dioxide (Disappearing Forests). People need to realize that the "treehuggers" who are advocating for reform on environmental laws are not trying to doom the economy like so many people believe. They are genuinely scared that global warming will bring horrible ramifications to the earth if actions are not taken. Unfortunately, these people are right. There will be severe natural disasters and consequences, if we do not fight global warming. Global warming is occurring at an alarming rate, with the green house gas emissions so high. Factories, cars, planes, and many others are contributing to the accelerating temperature change due to the enormous amounts of greenhouse gases that they emit. With each passing year the earth gets hotter, bringing us closer to facing our ramifications. If global warming continues
Ihrig !10 then future generations could be at high risk of many natural disasters such as, hurricanes, flooding, and even droughts. These natural disasters will not only threaten the life of many citizens, but the economy as well. We will have to account for a larger budget for natural disasters. The amount of damages that could ensue from these natural disasters could be catastrophic. People would be forced to migrate, leaving behind their homes and their lives. We must make sure to address global warming because it is not fair for future generations to suffer for our ignorance. Federal governments should reach agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol, and then make sure they are followed through so we can at least attempt to solve the problem. On a government level, emissions trading should be implemented and encouraged. It would allow countries to regulate an emissions cap, with having in mind the environment and helping the economy. In addition, deforestation also needs to be reduced and regulated. The mass amount of trees that are being cut down daily, can be detrimental in trying to fix the problem of global warming. Trees, through the process of photosynthesis, absorb the carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. This helps slow down global warming tremendously, for plant life accounts for twenty percent of manmade carbon dioxide emissions (Global Warming). Moreover, when a tree is cut down it releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is being called carbon bombs. As long as we remember to replant trees in the newly cut down forests, then we can actually slow global warming further. While many disagree that global warming is a serious threat because it can occur naturally through volcanic eruptions and gradual shifts in the earth's axis. There is no doubt that humankind has played a significant role in contributing to the greenhouse effect. In a selfish quest for better technologies and higher amounts of power, we have ignored the warnings from many scientists who believe that global warming is a legitimate concern. Today, however,
Ihrig !11 people are starting to see the problem through the many examples that we have observed. Global warming can be beaten but the fight starts now. It will take everyone to realize the severity of global warming to defeat it.
Ihrig !12 Block, Ben. “Climate Change Will Worsen Hunger, Study Says.” Worldwatch Institute, Worldwatch Institute , www.worldwatch.org/node/6271. Accessed 10 Mar. 2017. Chapman, Paul. “Entire Nation of Kiribati to Be Relocated over Rising Sea Level Threat.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 7 Mar. 2012, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/ australiaandthepacific/kiribati/9127576/Entire-nation-of-Kiribati-to-be-relocated-overrising-sea-level-threat.html. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017. Cooper, Marry. “Global Warming Treaty.” CQ Researcher by CQ Press, 26 Jan. 2001, library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php? id=cqresrre2001012600&type=hitlist&num=0. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. Denchak, Melissa. “Are the Effects of Global Warming Really That Bad?” NRDC, 27 Feb. 2017, www.nrdc.org/stories/are-effects-global-warming-really-bad. Accessed 7 Mar. 2017. Oskin, Becky. “Amazon Rainforest Breathes In More Than It Breathes Out.” Live Science, 20 Mar. 2014, www.livescience.com/44235-amazon-rainforest-carbon-cycle-measured.html. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. Struck, Doug. “Disappearing Forests.” CQ Researcher by CQ Press, 18 Jan. 2011, library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php? id=cqrglobal2011011800&type=hitlist&num=0. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. “BBC Bitesize - Higher Geography - Local and Global Effects of Climate Change - Revision 4.” BBC News, BBC, www.bbc.co.uk/education/guides/zwjjjxs/revision/4. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. “Causes of Climate Change.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 27 Dec. 2016, www.epa.gov/climate-change-science/causes-climate-change. Accessed 7 Mar. 2017.
Ihrig !13 “The Clean Power Plan: A Climate Game Changer.” Union of Concerned Scientists, Union of Concerned Scientists, www.ucsusa.org/our-work/global-warming/reduce-emissions/whatis-the-clean-power-plan. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017. “The Consequences of Climate Change.” NASA, NASA, 16 June 2016, climate.nasa.gov/ effects/. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. "Global Warming." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/PC3010999211/OVIC? u=tamp33192&xid=ed54d5c4. Accessed 16 Feb. 2017. “Global Warming and Hurricanes.” GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 22 Feb. 2017, www.gfdl.noaa.gov/globalwarming-and-hurricanes/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2017. IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Emissions Trading.” Emissions Trading, United Nations, 1 Feb. 2013, unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/mechanisms/ emissions_trading/items/2731.php. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
Research paper about the negative effects of climate change writing for my AP Language and Composition class.