Climate change, Global Warming, complicated and often confusing subjects, are the premise for many unwarranted debates. One common misunderstanding that should be clarified is that weather is not climate. Weather is chaotic and changes from day by day, minute by minute. Climate is a longer look. No less than 30 years should be used to view any types of trends in a climate conversation.
Climate allows for a broader picture, whereas weather is more like a single point on a mosaic, making it hard to see the whole picture up close, but when you step back and view it as a whole, the picture becomes clear, all the points lining up to form a single image.
The single image represents climate. In this case, it shows unnatural increases of green house gases since the industrial revolution and rising temperatures.
There are, of course, natural cycles that the world has gone through over long periods of time, some up and some down, even since humans have been alive. There is no debate over naturally occurring climate change. Many natural events occur and have occurred for millennium, most recently a volcanic eruption near Iceland.
The difference is that as far back as scientists can trace, some 800,000 years through ice-cores from the arctic, CO2 has never been so high in the atmosphere. Through the same type of analysis that is used on the rings of a tree, scientists can determine that as CO2 increases, temperatures do as well.
CO2 is not the single determining factor, but as climate change is a complex issue, it is the easiest to understand and follow. CO2 is also one of the major factors human activity has significantly increased in our atmosphere.
The concern is not that of the natural cycle of climate change, but the effects of human activity to alter the natural cycle, in this case, creating a global warming effect by increasing the amount of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere known as green house gases (GHG).
To my knowledge there is no debate on whether or not CO2 and other GHG’s trap heat, therefore, it is illogical to think that somehow releasing mass amounts of these GHG’s into the atmosphere over a hundred years would not increase the warming effect, resulting in a warming planet.
There is talk that the warming effect is because of the sun, but unfortunately, as NASA recently proved, it is absolutely not a result of solar activity. The stratosphere, which is closer to space than the atmosphere, is actually cooling, whereas the atmosphere is warming. If solar activity were part of the problem then you would see both “spheres” warming.
If the measurements of the temperatures across the planet rising is not enough to convince, perhaps the physical changes are. The rapidly melting glaciers in our coldest regions of the earth are what some would call an alarm of a warming planet.
As temperatures rise, the glaciers melt and as the glaciers melt, they begin to melt faster because there is less ice to reflect sunlight, which results in surrounding areas to absorb more heat, enhancing the warming effect. It’s a chain reaction type of effect and if unchecked could quickly become a problem that we, as humans, can no longer control.
Significant melting glaciers in Iceland and the Arctic result in multiple global problems. One of the major problems is often talked about and that is of rising sea levels. If the glaciers continue to melt many parts of the world will slowly begin to be submerged.
One of the most well known places where sea level rise is already of enormous concern is a set of islands called the Maldives. Sea rise has the potential to displace hundreds of millions of people across the world if both the arctic and Iceland glaciers continue to rapidly melt. This includes States in the United States and major cities, such as New York City.
Another major factor that is only recently starting to be discussed more openly is the release of methane that is trapped beneath the ice shelves that are melting. Methane is another GHG, which is 25-30 perfect more powerful than CO2.
Normally when methane is released from the ocean it is so far down that it can turn into CO2 before reaching the surface, but as the ice sheets melt, the methane is not as far down and begins to be released directly into the atmosphere. This could drastically accelerate the global warming effect.
So why is CO2 what is mentioned generally? The unnatural increase due to human activity of CO2 (yes and other GHG’s, but CO2 is the highest as of now) into the atmosphere is what is causing the sudden and rapid melting of the glaciers. If CO2 released is stopped we can stop the worst cases of human altered climate change from happening.
This means, Continue reading