Issue 8: Is the Threat of Global Warming Real?
“Climate change is the most important issue of our age, perhaps of any age. If we, individually and collectively, do not act resolutely, extensively, and urgently, the prospects are grim.” -Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, 2007 Claiming to be an expert on the data that proves the existence of the threat that global warming poses was made popular by the infamous Al Gore in 2005 with the release of both his book and movie An Inconvenient Truth. By making the theory of global warming more easily accessible and comprehendible to the public, measures to prevent further ozone depletion (specifically O3) have significantly increased. Although recent scientific support has arisen strongly supporting the theory and persuading the public, skeptics claim to have equal amounts of opposing evidence supporting global warming as harmless, natural cycle. The makeup and function of earth’s ozone layer have only been observed less than 100 years. Could global warming amount to a safe pattern practiced frequently by the planet over roughly 4.6 billion years, unaffected by inhabitants of the planet? Though some hold the former proposed question as truth, evidence is strong supporting the idea that marine, freshwater, terrestrial, and high-altitude environments will be gravely affected by human-induced global warming.
“Only the radical rethinking of our relationship with nature can save the earths ecology for future generations.” (Gore) Mayer Hillman is a senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Institute in London and is known for being one of the first proponents of personal carbon rationing as the way for the world’s population to prevent the damage that will be caused from global warming. He is also one of three renowned authors who published The Suicidal Planet, a very informative book embracing global warming as a reality and posing several methods on how one can personally reduce emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in their daily life. In The Suicidal Planet, a very commonly proposed statement is addressed: “Why the threat posed by climate change to human welfare and the environment, world-wide, is so grave and immediate.” (Hillman) It is widely believed by experts that within just the next fifty years, there will be more waves, higher temperatures during summers, fewer cold winters, and rising sea levels which will all, as a consequence, lead to loss of life during unusually high heat waves, shrinking of mountain glaciers, a growth in disease, and a great loss of species and their habitats. Rising sea levels are due to expanding warmer water as well as additional water produced when glaciers melt. The increasing concentration of greenhouse gasses are expected to raise sea levels around the world by two to three feet in just this century. Why is the climate changing? The climate is changing due to a natural force known as the “greenhouse effect”, which warms the earth. This effect is caused when humans emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. Because the atmosphere breaks down and expels these gases at a much slower rate than they are being emitted, the gases are trapped, leading to a warmer earth. Though carbon dioxide is given most of the blame for global warming, there are five other gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect: methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, per-fluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. These gases are released into the atmosphere when human activities such as logging, ranching, and the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) are performed. The amount of carbon dioxide concentrated in our atmosphere has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution. “In 1750 there were 280 parts per million (ppm) but by 2005 there was 380 ppm, a rise of over one-third.” (Rajan) This increase does not always shock experts. It is a common fact that fossil fuels contain energy