March, 31, 2014
ABSTRACT The surface of the earth has been warming, the average temperature increasing, for several years. People studying this do not agree on the cause of the warming trend. Some say that man has caused the change; others claim that it is a natural trend. If some environmentalists are to be believed, we are on the verge of massive global climate change which will see a significant rise in sea levels, chaotic weather patterns, and catastrophic droughts all caused by small increase in global average temperature. Whether global warming is a problem that can be dealt with, will depend not only on the ways that are available to governments and people to act but also on their will to act in response to this environmental change.
INTRODUCTION Man-made pollution is evident; from litter in local streams to plumes of carbon dense smoke billowing out of power plants, it has become apparent sustainability is not a priority. In addition, our resources are being used and abused much faster than the earth can replenish and recover. Recently, this abuse on Mother Nature has become a topic of great interest. Known as the “green movement”, advocates stress awareness of waste and pollution and its effect on the environment. The most publicized consequence of our non-earth friendly actions is global warming. This theory is blindly adopted with little scientific evidence because it justifies the worlds’ need to go green. When the overwhelming facts concerning greenhouse gasses and the sheer amount of waste humans produce is taken into account, there is no wonder global warming is justified in peoples’ minds. Although human induced global warming is a popular theory, it is misleading because climate change has occurred throughout history, our most recent period of warming ended over ten years ago, and the earth is currently in a state of cooling.
Climate change is nothing new. In the life span of earth, a climate where humans could and have inhabited the planted are mere smudges on its’ climate time line. Starting with the big bang over 13.7 billion years ago, the earth has experienced cycles of hot flashes and freezing spells. As recently as 650 million years ago the earth was frozen solid. This period of 10 million years is known as snowball earth. After this period, volcanoes began to erupt producing greenhouse gases, which warmed the earth. Over the next 400 million years, global temperatures rose and fell allowing for small life forms to succeed. Plants, cold-blooded animals, and insects did well during this time. Then, quite suddenly, there was mass extinction. Over 95% of the earth’s species died due to flood basalt eruptions lasting for one million years. The earths’ temperatures rose an impressive 18oF due to a 700% increase of CO2 during this time. It then took 195 billion years for the blanked of CO2 to dissipate and earth to cool, once again allowing inhabitants. At 55 million years ago another 200F increase occurred due to increased methane gas. Over the next 40 million years, temperatures continued to fluctuate, allowing for the polar ice caps to expand and retreat. Since, the climate has stayed relatively stable with only a single ice age. When temperatures warmed, woolly mammoths that thrived during the ice age and other mega mammals could not survive. However, it would be naive to thinking climate change would miraculously come to a stop on behalf of human inhabitation. The above-mentioned changes had drastic effects on the earth. Recently there has been less drastic, however still noticeable, climate fluctuations.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM For several years believers and skeptics have argued about the causes of global warming. The problem is complicated because believers warn that man-made causes if left to advance too far may be irreversible. Reduction of the rainforests, continued growth in hydrocarbon