For the past 150 years, humans have been emitting copious amounts of greenhouse gases and this has created a problem of climate change which is leading the Earth down a path of destruction. Every second, over 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere from human activities and causes drastic changes in Earth’s climate. Climate change is happening because of humans and is causing catastrophic consequences such as deleterious weather, sea levels rising and marine life dying.
The world has been experiencing atypical weather and climate patterns due to human impacts. There is a direct link between global warming and more powerful storms. More floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes have been happening. In 2012, hurricane Sandy was exacerbated by the high ocean surface temperatures. Adding onto that, hurricane Harvey was another fatal storm which could become the new normal for hurricanes across the world. More vigorous storms are caused by increasing sea surface temperatures because more water will evaporate due to convection. This makes the intensity of a storm depend on how much thermal energy the oceans contain. On the contrary, many have been experiencing climate changes but not warming. Global warming is just a term that represents the rising average temperatures around the globe. However, climate change refers predominantly to the burning of fossil fuels causing a variety of repercussions other than warming. For example, the ice in Antarctica reached a record maximum in 2014. In addition, other places are experiencing cooling trends like in some parts of southeast USA where the climate is becoming cooler. This doesn’t show that climate change is not happening but it is proof that weather patterns are changing and bringing cooler air to some places. This problem is all caused by the human activities that are emitting greenhouse gases. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) analyzed over 9,000 climate reports from around the world. The AR5 proved that there is a 95% chance that over the past 50 years human actions have been altering the greenhouse effect. Also, 97% of scientists believe that global warming is real and caused by humans. These changes have many consequences to humans and our way of life. If the world continues to warm, farming around the equator will collapse and make fresh produce scarce.
Next, as a result of climate change, sea levels are rising because of melting ice. Over the past 10 years, much of the ice in the Arctic has melted, hundreds of cubic kilometers of ice have melted in Greenland and the majority of the ice in the Bering Sea has disappeared. The average global temperature is increasing and accelerating the sea level rise. At the current pace, the sea level is predicted to increase by 65 centimeters by 2100. Temperatures are increasing because carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases are in the atmosphere and trapping the radiation from the sun. Without ice on the Earth, the energy from the sun will not be reflected and make the world very hot. Activities such as transportation, industry, agriculture, fossil fuel use/production, and industry are some of the leading causes of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions like methane. For example, agriculture, and specifically cattle, release massive amounts of methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas which contains carbon but is much stronger than CO2. One methane molecule is equivalent to 23 carbon dioxide molecules. Millions of people eat beef on a regular basis, however, if you switched from eating cows to chicken, you could potentially reduce 80% of your carbon emissions. Many small islands such as the Maldives, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Micronesia, Tegua, and Palau will cease to exist due to the rising sea levels. Furthermore, many coastal cities such as New York and Miami are currently vulnerable to flooding. Some streets in these cities are starting to flood. To adapt they are installing pumps and raising roads, however, these costly projects will only last 40-50 years at the current rate of sea level rise. Adding onto that, if these cities are flooded it will cost billions of dollars for repairs and for people to relocate.
Lastly, climate change is warming the oceans and killing important marine life like coral reefs. Coral bleaching is the first step of coral dying which many coral reefs across the world, including the Great Barrier Reef, have experienced. The death of many corals has caused irreversible damage to these ecosystems. Corals are a vital part of marine life ecosystems and when it dies it affects all of the interconnected species which millions of people rely on to survive. Also, coral reefs promote eco-tourism, boost the economy like in Australia where the Great Barrier Reef annually generates 6 billion dollars for the economy and provides 69,000 jobs. In addition, many other marine life species are sensitive to the fluctuating sea temperature and the release of carbon into the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs 30% of the world’s carbon, which is almost 10 gigatonnes annually. Another human activity that emits imperiling sums of greenhouse gases is palm oil production. Many cheap everyday products like pizza dough, instant noodles, shampoo, soap, margarine and many more contain this destructive ingredient. In order to make palm oil plantations, many forests are burned. Even in a small country like Indonesia, this releases more carbon in one day than the entire American population. This large amount of greenhouse gas being released has killed a large amount of marine life. In 2014, five thousand square miles of water in the Gulf of Mexico was almost devoid of life due to pollution and over 400 of these patches are located across the oceans. Also, 70% of the oxygen that people breathe is produced by marine plants and if they go extinct, it will cause severe consequences to the health of all life on Earth.
The world is facing many problems, but none as significant as climate change. There is immense proof that climate change is real due to human impacts. However, people are still taking advantage of our limited resources without realizing the detrimental consequences. If we do not take action now, these many repercussions of sea levels rising and marine life dying will continue to happen and worsen until the Earth becomes an uninhabitable, polluted, lifeless place.
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