About Climate Change

To talk about the cause of Global warming, we have to talk a bit about the Industrial Revolution that had happened during the 1800s in the U.S. because this is the root cause that led to all other causes of Global Warming. During this transition, the oil, steel, and car industries had grown into tremendously huge corporations. This was at first very beneficial to the country. Not only did many people began to have better and more resources to use, the country had grown, giving people a higher standard of life, and the modern phase of America had begun to form. This was seen as one of the greatest revolutions that had ever happened to our kind, that every single event happened at this time was a contribution to our evolution as a whole and makes our lives better and easier. But no one knew that this comes at a cost of damaging our world from “burning coal for electricity, using gasoline to fuel vehicles, clear-cutting forests and engaging in certain agricultural practices that remove carbon-trapping vegetation” (Fears 1).

This reason that these activities contribute to the cause of Global Warming is because the gases that are released into our atmosphere during these practices. These gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons causes the greenhouse effect to expand, and in result trapping heat back inside while it is radiating from Earth to space (Shaftel Cause).

According to Shaftel, water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas and acts as a feedback to the climate, because as it increases as the Earth’s atmosphere gets warmer (Cause). Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is a minor compared to water vapor, but it’s one of the most important components of the atmosphere, it is “released through natural processes such as Huang 3 respiration and volcano eruptions and through human activities such as deforestation, land use changes, and burning fossil fuels” (Shaftel Cause). For example, in the process of burning coal or oil combines carbon with the oxygen in the air and make carbon dioxide. These activities resulted in an increased carbon dioxide concentration that is so much higher than before, forcing the Globe to warm quicker. The carbon dioxide level had raised from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years.

Methane, another greenhouse gas produced by both naturally and through human activities, but it is a far more active greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide, and is less abundant in the atmosphere. According to Shaftel, methane is produced “the decomposition of wastes in landfills, agriculture, and especially rice cultivation, as well as ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock” (Cause). Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas produced by “soil cultivation practices, especially the use of commercial and organic fertilizers, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production, and biomass burning” (Shaftel Cause). And last, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), another greenhouse gas compound that is synthetic, it is only produced entirely from the industrial origin, and it has the ability to destruct the ozone layer of the Earth. But thankfully, the production of Chlorofluorocarbon is now largely regulated by international agreements (Shaftel Cause).

According to Shaftel, it is concluded in the “Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations” (Cause) that it is more than ninety percent sure that the last 50 years of warming of the Earth is caused by human activities. That means most of these excessive amount of green house gases are caused by our activities, so we are those who are responsible for this slow going disaster to the Earth.

Due to Global Warming, many things have changed and much more will change in the future. According to the National Assessment of climate change released in 2014 that had gathered hundreds of experts of climate science, the issue of Global Warming is affecting every part of the United States of American. Some example of the effects is “more sea-level rise, flooding, storm surges, precipitation and heat waves in the Northeast; frequent water shortages and hurricanes in the Southeast and the Caribbean; and more drought and wildfires in the Southwest” (Fears 1). Also, data shows that the change of average temperature in every decade used to below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. From the 1880s to 1920s, the average temperature change was still in the range of -0.3 to -0.6. until the 1940s that it became positive for the first time. The average temperature change in the 2000s decade had reached almost 1.1 above 0. This change of average temperature is now extremely high, especially in the last few decades (Fears 1). According to NOAA's “State of the Climate in 2012,”“The average global temperature had risen more than 1.5 degrees since 1880. Four major data sets agree that 2012 was the hottest years on record in the United States” (Fears 1).

It is estimated that by the end of the century, the average temperature will be as high as 5 degrees higher even the nation acts aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And it is estimated that it might be as high as 10 degrees higher if emissions are high (Fears 1). And in another article by Fischer, he states that the average global temperature has risen 1.5 degrees since 1900 and are expected to rise another 2 degrees with the existing gas emission in our atmosphere (1). With both articles with a similar analysis of the change of the temperature, there is no denial that the temperature will only be higher in the future. Not only that, the data also shows that sea level hit a record high in 2012, and “wet areas are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier” (Fears 1). Different areas will have or had different impacts from global warming. As a result of sea level rise, “the Chesapeake Bay region is expected to experience an increase in coastal flooding and drowning of ... wetlands” according to the report (Fears 1). This means that lower bay areas will have risks of sinking land, water quality will get worse, and low-oxygen “dead zones” will increase (Fears 1).

Alaska had warmed twice as fast than the rest of the United States in the past 60 years. “Over the past five decades, average Alaska temperatures have increased by 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit, with the increases most pronounced in winter at 6.3 degrees” (Rosen 1), “leading to permafrost thaw that is causing highways and even airport runways to sink” (Fears 1). With higher greenhouse gas emissions, “the majority of Maryland and Delaware, and parts of WestVirginia and New Jersey are projected to have 60 extra days per year of temperatures topping 90 degrees starting around the middle of the century, the report said” (Fears 1). In the Great Plains and Midwest, the winter time is 7 degrees warmer than historical norms, proving that “temperatures are rising faster over land than over the ocean and more during the winter than any other season” (Fischer 1). And this will reduce in Great Lakes ice cover, leading to “more evaporation, lower water levels and consequent impacts on shipping, infrastructures, beaches and ecosystems” (Fischer 1). In the Caribbean and Southeast, there are increase in wind, rain, and storm surges and California will have drier summers (Fischer 1).

According to the experts of NASA, the effect of Global Warming will continue to change the world through the century beyond. The temperature will continue to rise, growing seasons will lengthen, which might be the only positive impact of global warming, for now, change in precipitation patterns. More droughts and heat waves, hurricanes will become stronger and intense, sea level will rise 1-4 feet by 2100, and the Arctic ocean will become ice-free in summer before mid-century (Shaftel Effect).

Facts about Climate Change