We all have heard of Global Warming, but few people truly understand the phenomenon and its danger to our mother, Earth. People often cite cold temperatures as evidence that the ‘warming’ is not taking place, but again this is a misconception. Before, I actually detail what Global Warming is, I’d like to point out the word ‘warming’ is not black and white, rather its own three dimensional concept. This ‘warming’ is equivalent to throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of our planet. It does not necessarily make every place warmer, but rather throws the weather and nature herself out of whack.
Global Warming is defined as the increase of the Earth’s average temperature of its surface, near surface, and oceans, however as stated above ‘warming’ is not all encompassing of the issue. This ‘warming’ affects all climate systems and their weather based events (i.e. hurricanes, droughts, flooding).
Before the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s average temperature remained consistent, despite ice ages and such, which represents about only one degree Fahrenheit of difference. These extreme phases of Earth’s climate rising and falling have followed a cyclical path, but unlike the events currently taking place, Mother Nature always stabilized Earth. The climate rose and fell and then rose and then fell and then rose again. You see what I’m getting at?
Since around the Industrial Revolution up until about 1950 the Earth’s average temperature raised another one degree Fahrenheit, which may seem minute, but has far more impact than you could imagine. As an example of the power such a tiny change has, NASA has stated that if the planet were tilted by one degree to either side (farther or closer to the Sun), Earth would be almost uninhabitable to humans, if not all life. If that tilted us farther away than one-degree, Earth would be frozen tundra with temperatures far below zero all the time. On the other hand, if Earth were tilted that one-degree closer to the Sun the planet would be way too hot for any life. Keep in mind this is only and estimate NASA has produced.
A single degree rise in temperature in 75-100 years time is massive, but wait there’s more. In the time between the 1950s until now the temperature has raised another one degree Fahrenheit, and you have seen the devastation that it has brought. Hurricane Katrina, Tsunamis in the Far East, and the polar ice melting are all effects of manmade greenhouse gases. These are all effects of a two degree Fahrenheit increase.
Frighteningly, the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report has stated that during the 21st century the Earth’s average temperature will increase by two to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Again this is only an estimate, but imagine the destruction we have seen in the past decade and extrapolate that by as much as five times more power.
Now, you still may be wondering what exactly is causing this shift in global climate. Frankly, it comes down to greenhouse gases, which are naturally occurring and without them we could not survive the Sun’s radiation. So, why is too much of this helpful gas bad? Well, these greenhouse gases (mainly water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone) are part of Earth’s atmosphere and these are the gases that absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range (only relevant to you readers who are scientists, which I am not). This effect both bounces off negative radiation from the Sun that would kill us, while keeping a certain amount of radiation and heat to keep the planet habitable. Without our greenhouse gas effect the average surface temperature of Earth would be around 59 degrees Fahrenheit less than it is now.
Again since the Industrial Revolution the main source that increases our greenhouse gases are the fossil fuels we burn. We use them for everything from putting gas in our cars, trains, planes along with generating electricity and even using leftover Tar in constructing roads. The burning of these fuels emits a massive amount of nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxides, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. All of these are funneled into the atmosphere where they remain and build up due to the fact that Mother Nature is unequipped to deal with such high amounts of. Again to those who feel that the Earth cycles through temperature changes (which it does), you must keep in mind that those are produced only by the Earth itself, not an outside source releasing a suffocating amount. A disturbing finding according to the IPCC is that 90% of our greenhouse gases pumped out by humans come from the burning of fossil fuels.
Think of Global Warming as a Flu virus you would catch. The virus weakens your immunity making you more susceptible to further infections. When you’re in your bed trying to get some rest, someone comes in with burning coal (just for fun lets pretend someone would do that) and shuts the door. Would the carbon dioxide that the burning coal releases help you and your virus or make you feel worse? That’s basically what we are doing to the Earth. Not only are we throwing her systems out of whack, mankind is also weakening her immune system.
Take a look at the BP oil spill, which dumped as much as 180 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It reigned immediate destruction in an area up to 68,000 square miles, and could literally be seen from the International Space Station. I actually watched some of the footage, and it was disturbing to say the least, but I digress.
The spill damaged an incomprehensible number of ecologies, fisheries and marine life. Whales were found in the Mediterranean Sea, having escaped the spill, sharks were found in Cape Cod (though it was said they were there due to an increase in seal populations, I find that related to this incident) and an army of sea turtles, a species that can live well over 100 years, washed up on beaches in the Gulf.
How does Global Warming affect this? Mentioned before were the polar ice sheets melting in which polar bears are drowning. An iceberg four times the size of the island of Manhattan broke off from Greenland this past August and is making its way down the Atlantic Ocean. Now, ocean currents have already begun to bring plumes of oil up along the Eastern Seaboard, and it has been speculated this monstrous iceberg could come in contact with the Gulf’s oil. It’s impossible to say what could happen, but if the Greenland Iceberg were to melt it would significantly affect water levels and the path of the oil’s flow.
It reminds me of my favorite movie of all time (for this reason among many), Avatar. Mankind is much like a cancer, not only to Mother Nature, but also to each other. Disregard for the true nature of things, destroying the Amazon Rainforest day by day even though we know it produces 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. Is that not a suicide attempt on a planetary scale?
We toss garbage out as if it is evaporated the moment we lose sight of it. Even burying our dead, we no longer feel wooden boxes are good enough (they decompose after a number of years) we must use steel that will take generations at least to begin to fade. I had to bury my dog today, I loved her dearly and spent the past 6 months giving her 2 pills and injections every day, and taking her for weekly fluid therapy. When she was gone, the Vet asked what we wanted to do with her remains and that many caskets were available. I decided she would be cremated and her ashes returned to the Earth from whence she came. She lies in our garden now and with a memorial stone stating her name; ‘Zoe…always loved and always running’.
My point is we no longer return to the Earth, as we should because, as we all know energy (which we are made of) is only transformed and never destroyed. Mankind has lost that connection with our planet, our mother and her safety. Perhaps this hub was more ranting than interesting, but if it does not help anybody but myself, I am still glad I wrote it!