Waukee High School ● Online Newspaper

Doom, Gloom, and Climate Change

Opinions by Ethan Adato

November 28, 2016

Floods, hurricanes, drought: These disasters and more occur at an alarmingly increasing rate. Heat waves last about three times the long term average since 2011, droughts cost the U.S. more than ten billion dollars yearly and the frequency of major storms like hurricanes continue to escalate.

This is caused by climate change. Although some may think humans don’t affect the climate or perhaps that they don’t have a major impact, science assures that humans play a huge role in the health of the planet.

Global temperatures continue to rise steadily, however the rate of change has increased drastically since 1880 (the beginning of the industrial revolution, and thus pollution) with average temperatures soaring in the early 2000s. Although scientists note a pattern of global warming and cooling, according to NASA, 97% of climate scientists agree that the cause of this climate change is probably human activity.

The increasing temperature is largely due to fossil fuels emitted by cars, which release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. CO2 proved to be a heat-containing gas in the early 19th century, and the CO2 in the atmosphere holds in heat that is normally released by Earth and its inhabitants.

co2-graph-021116

The fossil fuels help to cause a rise in temperatures. As well as suppressing the heat from the earth, the amount of CO2 and other gases released from factory production are eroding the ozone layer in the atmosphere which protects people from dangerous UV rays radiating from the sun.

A common argument against the idea of climate change is the theory that the heating of the Earth results naturally from the presence of water vapor. According to NASA, it is true that water vapor does play a role in heating the Earth. Water vapor amplifies the heat trapping power of carbon dioxide in the air. This means that although water vapor does impact climate change, the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases in the air are also critically important to how hot the planet is.

Another argument against climate change is one that is best explained through a tweet from now President-Elect of the United States Donald Trump. In 2012, Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

This is a terrifyingly inaccurate statement. Although it’s true that China is the top polluting country in the world as of 2006, they have dramatically changed their stance on climate change in the past few years. China is now the largest builder of renewable energy infrastructure and has improved its energy efficiency.

Although more and more humans are being affected by climate change, there are also animals that are suffering due to the damage we have caused the climate. factories dumping their waste products into the ocean has caused rising levels of acid in the natural habitats of sea-creatures. This shortens the lifespan of dolphins and other animals that aren’t used to living in such acidic levels of seawater. In fact, the population of marine vertebrates (such as dolphins and porpoises) have declined 49% since 1970 in part because of pollution in the oceans.

In the arctic, polar bears are living at the forefront of climate change, caused by such pollution. Polar bears depend on arctic ice to live on and hunt from. With the increase in global temperatures, their home is melting away which could potentially lead to extinction.

For decades, climate change has been widely regarded as a hoax even as climate scientists in the sixties tried to raise the alarm repeatedly about the damage humans have caused the planet. If politicians don’t begin to limit the amount of gases released by factories and fossil fuel, the world is lost. It’s time the world acknowledges the danger the earth and its inhabitants are in and join the climate scientists in urging world leaders to act. The human race can no longer afford to ignore the science and remain silent on this important issue.

For more information on climate change, a wonderful documentary called Before The Flood with Leonardo Dicaprio is worth watching.

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