Global Warming: A Hopeless Cause or a Helpless Regret?

According to a survey in Time magazine, 85% of Americans think global warming is happening. The other 15% work for the White House (Leno qtd. Walsh), but Americans should no longer laugh at the current situation. Global warming has been a highly debated and heated controversial topic to which millions speak their minds about. Is global warming real? And if so, who’s to blame? Scientists, government officials, and even religious groups have gone head to head pointing fingers, while in the meantime the problem drastically increases. The world has become ignorant. People would rather point fingers than face the task at hand: Save the planet that has been fostering our species for centuries. The world should not fight over whose to blame for our planet’s demise; rather fight to save the planet from the very real and current threat of global warming.

Left and right the debate over global warming continues to haunt news broadcasts while the world sits backs and argues. What is the reason for global warming? It’s unclear. There are many theories and ideas but the only thing that people are taking from them are new information to dispute against others. Science is important, but living now the worlds needs to fix or at least repair the issue for we cannot continue to waste more precious time. “Global warming will affect the late 1980’s and early 1990’s babies as they grow up and start to make lives for themselves. It is not just a distant threat for our kid’s kids” (Revkin). Whether or not scientists, government officials, or even religious groups like it, the arguing over whose right or whose wrong needs to stop and the brainstorming needs to begin. One scientist claims, “Dangerous climate change is taking place and… time is running out” (Lean), others shoot them down and say “The political and journalistic doomsayers are wrong… there is no global warming problem” (McManus), well, whose right? It seems that they are all just in it for bragging rights rather than to save our planet. However, one scientist made a mature decision when he said, “It is by no means clear whether these signs indicate, real, worrying proof of manmade climate change, or just regular, naturally occurring variations in the Earth’s climate system, but either way we need to take action” (Bohan).

To all the skeptics who claim that humans have not affected life on earth, think again. Not only does our natural breathing pattern affect the earth, but the gases that we burn destroy it as well. In an Inconvenient Truth Al Gore talks about how our carbon emissions are so powerful that they prevent much of the heat that is being radiated by the sun to leave the atmosphere, creating a warm environment that inhabitants have gotten so accustomed to. So what’s the problem? The problems are: the overheating has caused the North and South Poles to melt, while the glaciers and ice caps crumble to slush, not to mention the fact that the Greenland ice sheet is melting enough to raise global sea levels. “The entire Greenland ice sheet would be enough to raise global sea levels 23 ft. The Antarctic holds enough ice to raise sea levels more than 215 ft.”(Kluger). During the Ice Age, the CO2 concentration was just 180 p.p.m. (parts per million) and in the past 150 years the level has reached 381 p.p.m. (Kluger). Another problem from overheating is that there is drought transforming the oceans and the ice caps, “Higher temperatures bake moisture out of soil faster, causing dry regions that live at the margins to cross the line into full-blown crisis” (Greenblatt). The problem is real, and it is not going away any time soon. The world needs to conserve its energy output and consumption before we destroy what little of the planet is left that we might be able to possibly save.

Permafrost is the basis of temperature as soil and rock remains below zero throughout the year, and forms when the ground cools sufficiently in winter to produce a frozen layer that persists throughout the following summer. The problem is that layers of permafrost are not staying frozen; layers that have spent hundreds of thousands of years taking shape are now melting. Permafrost has a lot of dead matter in it that bacteria cannot decompose since it is frozen. However, if the heat blast continues, the permafrost will melt and release maybe as much as 450 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere (Horner). “The retreat of glaciers will continue. There will be less snow cover on the planet, permafrost will continue to melt, the extent of sea-ice will decrease further, and the Greenland ice sheet will completely shrink” (McManus). Not only will the melting permafrost release massive amounts of carbon, but it will also put enough methane in the atmosphere to get us past 4 degrees which will create a tidal wave effect that hits the ocean pushing the temperature another 5 degrees (Lean). The permafrost will raise our carbon emissions, as well as raise the methane so high that our temperatures will drastically increase making life on earth unlivable.

Another factor contributing to the shrinkage of the ice caps is the 90% of sunlight that the polar ice reflects. The reflecting sunlight bounces back into space along with any energy it contained. The ocean water, however, does the opposite and retains the energy creating the heat that is diminishing the ice. This is known as a feedback loop, and according to scientists it’s “a nasty one” and has “unleash[ed] another beast” (Kluger). Another issue that this loop causes is the change in vegetation. Due to the massive amount of sunlight from the reflection it can cause deserts in some areas and according to an experiment done in the Amazonian forest, a desert surface showed a reduction in rainfall by seven percent (Houghton). Another feedback mechanism, a theory, is the one that exists in nature for control and for adaptation to the environment. Meaning, the biosphere as a system can control its own changes, however, the addition of humans has not helped it (Houghton). Not only does this feedback melt the ice, but it also changes the circulation of deep water. The higher temperatures and sea levels cause the water to change, water that is “unusually salty becomes cooler and even saltier through evaporation, so increasing its density” (Houghton). More factors adding to the demise of the people that people continue to neglect, funny thing is though, people know to protect their body from the harmful UV rays because our atmosphere is weak, but they won’t protect the planet or try to prevent it from worsening.

Many people argue that the earth experiences cold spells and heat waves, undermining the contention that the globe is getting hotter. Others also say that the excess CO2 in the air promotes plant growth. In regards to the consistent melting of the sea ice, logs dated back to the 17th century observed a retreat of the ice in the Arctic that showed the sea ice’s natural cycle (McManus). Despite that theory, the amount of ice melted previously has been doubled and might even triple (Lean). The few scientists who argue global warming state that plants grown in the presence of additional CO2 experienced greater growth, greater drought tolerance, less need for water, and increased ability to deal with plant stresses (McManus). However, their “built-up tolerance” would not be able to handle the heat waves brought on by the lack of atmosphere coverage that causes massive drought. Not only is there no hard evidence proving these controversial theories, but there is hard evidence debating them and proving them wrong.

An even funnier theory debating global warming is that the high temperatures will help food production and that the high sea levels could aid shipping by opening up new channels for freighters to go through. “As for the current warming rate, the north coasts of Russia and Canada could be ice-free for the most of the summer by 2050. Making it possible for trade routes and the shipping companies to save time and gas” (Avery). Not only is that selfish, but it is incredibly unintelligent. To assume that the planet, and moreover, the land, at high expected sea levels, will still be visible and livable is naïve. Another knee-slapping theory is that the high temperatures and CO2 emissions will provide an opportunity for planets to flourish, avoiding any possibility of famine in case of drought (Smith et al Changming). However, how are plants supposed to flourish in a beaming sun that is drying out the land they are supposed to flourish in? Researchers are arguing a title it seems, however the only argument that skeptics can come up with are easily proven wrong and are truly a laugh. Global warming is real and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.

Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, cloud forests are drying, and wildlife is scrambling to keep pace. It’s becoming clear that humans have caused most of the past century’s warming by releasing heat-trapping gases as we power our modern lives. Some call global warming a theory, others call it a proven set of facts. Whatever the case may be, there has been an increase in temperature, an increase in the sea levels, and drought in some places. Nothing will happen until the trend of the people changes and without change, life on earth will be a deadly challenge, one that is unlikely to be won. Whether inhabitants of the earth want to accept it or not, our living here has affected the planet because of carbon emissions, the burning of greenhouse gases and our flagrant disregard for the environment. Our actions have led us to a definite imbalance of nature that needs to be set straight. In the end, whether global warming is naturally occurring or hastened by man’s footprints, the truth remains that there are many ways to combat climate change, and they all begin with people taking action. The world must take responsibility for our actions or inaction because global warming is a force greater than all political figures, greater than all scientists’ experiments, and greater than all religious holidays, for this is our planet and it is slowly diminishing due to our recklessness, so it is our duty to fix it if we still can.