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Climate Change

By Khuslen Otgonbayar

Climate Change, the observed rise in global temperature, will indefinitely become the central issue of the 21st century. There must be a worldwide effort to stop Climate Change, or else grave consequences will occur on a global scale.

Imagine a world where water scarcity and insecurity plagues the Earth, where constant heat waves occur, and where animal habitats would become inhospitable. This is the type of world Earth will become if Climate Change isn’t stopped as soon as possible. To begin with, what exactly is Climate Change? Climate Change, also known as Global Warming, is the change in Earth’s usual climate. In this case, the change in climate can be seen through an increase in temperature. According to Brian Dunbar in an NASA article, “...the Earth’s average temperature rose 1 degree fahrenheit in the last century” (Dunbar 1). While this change may not seem extreme, it has drastic effects on Earth. In this decade, the observed effects are the melting of ice caps, increased wildfires, and elevated ocean levels. These problems will only get worse as time passes. The main cause of Climate Change is the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. The use of power plants and cars are powered through the fossil fuels. When burned, these fossil fuels release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. These gases accumulate in the atmosphere, worsening the greenhouse effect, which traps heat and causes a rise in surface temperature.

More specifically, an important issue concerning the forested areas of the world are wildfires. As shown through an info-map featured by Tribune Content Agency Graphics, California wildfires could increase by up to 55% percent! This projected increase in wildfires is correlated with an increase in temperature. The temperature increase can be seen as a direct result of global warming.

wildfire vs climate change map

Another alarming issue caused by Climate Change is the acidification of oceans. The buildup of carbon dioxide and an increase in temperature is absorbed by the ocean. The more the carbon dioxide, the more the ocean absorbs. With this, comes the acidification of the ocean. The consequences of ocean acidification are far-reaching, and affects not only sea-life but also human food systems. Coral reefs will become more brittle and weak to troubles such as the warming temperature. Reefs are important to humans because they provide protection from flooding,

support economies through fishing, and are home to vast ecosystems. Additionally, coral reefs play a critical role in that they are home to many species in which humans rely on for food. As reported by the United Nations Environmental Programme, “...fish, including shellfish, contribute 15 percent of animal protein for 3 billion people worldwide. A further 1 billion people rely on fisheries for their primary source of protein” (UNEP 3). Ocean acidification, caused by climate change, dramatically impacts people and species around the world. There must be actions taken to stop this phenomenon.

The effects aforementioned are not all the detrimental effects of climate change; humans must stop it before the damage makes Earth inhospitable. The first step that humans can take is to start using renewable energy such as solar power. Solar power is powered through the clean energy acquired from the sun, as opposed to harmful energy obtained from fossil fuels. Solar panels reduce dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. Another way to combat Climate Change is to drive energy efficient vehicles. Electric or hybrid cars have the same concept as solar panels. They use clean energy, resulting in a reduction of fossil fuel use. The transportation sector is responsible for about ⅓ of all greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, a switch to more energy-efficient cars will definitely help the environment. On another hand, a way that the US, a global superpower, can combat climate change is to sign the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the UN, which set targets towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Although the US is responsible for 35% of greenhouse gas emissions, it still has not signed the protocol. The US must sign the protocol to ensure a safer environment for future generations.

Works Cited

Dunbar, Brian. “What Is Climate Change?” NASA, NASA, 13 May 2015, www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-change-k4.html.

Gecas, Rama. “The U.S. Refusal to Ratify the Kyoto Treaty.” The United States' Refusal to Ratify the Kyoto Treaty, www-pub.naz.edu/.~rgecas7/problem.htm.

“GLOBAL WARMING’S EVIL TWIN: OCEAN ACIDIFICATION.” Climate Reality Project, 21 June 2016, www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/global-warming-ocean-acidification.

"Wildfires and Climate Change." Tribune Content Agency Graphics, 2007. Opposing Viewpoints In Context, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GPS&sw=w&u=paci91811&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCT3294260628&it=r&asid=40b845673a5c564b4f175436b929fc47. Accessed 14 Nov. 2017.