The world’s climate is noticeably changing, and research has found that humans are a main causal factor (ncse.com). One theory of how humans contribute to climate change is by emitting greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are things like carbon dioxide from gas and coal use, including when used to produce electricity and fuel for cars and other forms of transportation (ncse.com). The amount of carbon dioxide is greater than it has been in 650,000 years (climate.nasa.gov). And, it doesn’t appear to be slowing.
According to the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Faith Birol, “The global oil demand is set to grow almost 12% to 103.5 million barrels per day in 2040,” (forbes.com). It is imperative that we decrease the impact we are having on the climate, given the impact rising temperatures have on sea levels, plants and animals, and the availability and accessibility of water and food.
The increase in temperatures is a primary area of concern, due to the large impact it has on many different areas.
The higher temperatures and changes in weather patterns throughout our seasons have become increasingly noticeable. According to the National Center for Science Education, temperatures have steadily climbed in the past 150 years (www.ncse.com). In the last 16 years, we have had nine years of the highest temperatures ever recorded (climate.nasa.gov).
Higher temperatures cause multiple problems, including the melting of polar ice caps and resulting in flooding in coastal cities (www.ncse.com). This flooding occurs because the melting of the ice caps increases sea levels.
In fact, in the past century, sea levels have increased by seven inches worldwide (climate.nasa.gov).
The environmental change in temperature impacts our plant and animal species as well, forcing them to adapt or even change environments (ncse.com). One problematic outcome of animals and plants moving to different areas is the carrying of diseases to new locations (ncse.com). Even more concerning, changes in patterns of rainfall that are occurring can lead to certain plants and animals dying out altogether and decreasing the variety of species (ncse.com).
Rising temperatures also impact rainfall patterns, with large-scale water and food shortages as predicted outcomes of climate change (pacinst.org). As droughts become more common, crops will become more scarce. To understand the scale of this problem, reports say that roughly 70 percent of the world’s water use is for agriculture (pacinst.org). The link between water availability and crop production makes the impact on agricultural output unavoidable (sciencedirect.com).
Without dramatic changes in our behavior, the consequences of climate change will likely grow and continue far into the future. The complexity of the topic seems to contribute to the various opinions people have, but my position has not changed. Before doing research, I believed climate change was very real and caused by the noticeable impact of humans. The new information I found did not change my mind, because it supported my prior beliefs. For example, I was already aware of greenhouse gases and how burning coal impacts the atmosphere. However, having proven evidence is important to support ideas as factual versus an individual’s biased opinion. Unfortunately, like many people, I worry that knowing this information will not change my day-to-day activities. The reality is that we are used to and expect modern conveniences, such as driving my car to college and enjoying nice, long, hot showers. It seems that most often people are only willing to sacrifice small luxuries. While I try to do little things like turn off the lights when I leave the room, I find myself resistant to making myself uncomfortable, despite knowing the long-term, negative impact.