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Sai Sua November 28, 2013 Kent Simons Term Paper / Signature Assignments

Is the rising temperature a growing problem?

When speaking of global climate change, one is usually referring to the gradual increase in the earth's atmospheric temperature. Another term used for global climate change is in fact global warming. People from around the world, from many different fields of study and work have noticed an increase in the earth's overall temperature over a few short years ( short years when compared to the geologic time scale ). According to NASA, the global average atmospheric temperature has increased by .8 Celsius since the 1880s. This may seem like an insignificant change to most, but the effects of this change so far have been dramatic and the possible future effects can be alarming and even frightening. There are no sure answers to why the world is warming up and if it will continue to do so but there is evidence and research that can give us an idea of what we can do, if we can do anything at all. There are many signs that the earth is warming up. It can be seen around the world, in many different ways. You can see changes in the oceans and the ice caps. Many species of wildlife have been affected. There have even been changes detected in the air we breath. All of these changes can be linked to global warming.

As mentioned above the earth's ice caps and glaciers have suffered due to the relatively new increase in temperature. Much of the earth's ice that had stood for thousands of years has suddenly begun to shrink in size at an alarming rate. Not to say that it's surprising to see ice melt, but the fact that this ice has been around for such a long time and then suddenly and only now it begins to melt this fast! Take the Larsen B ice shelf for example. Between the months of January and March of 2002, a section of ice the size of Rhode Island fell away! According to the NRDC ( National Resources Defense Council ), the ice shelf has shrunk by 40% in the last 15 years. NASA also says the polar ice caps are melting at an astonishing rate of 9% each decade. And as if that's not enough the National Snow and Ice Data Center claims that over the past thirty years over one million square miles of perennial ice has disappeared. It is also predicted that at this rate all glaciers in glacier national park will be gone my 2070. Do I think this is coincidence? No, if this was something the earth did every couple thousand years or so why would it happen so fast? When taking the geologic time scale into consideration, 30 years isnt more than a blink of an eye. It would be like taking a new car around the block and when it breaks down say it was just your average wear and tear that ruined it. I dont believe a natural cycle of the earth would happen so fast. Other signs of global warming can be found in the Oceans. Rising amounts of C02 in the oceans support the theory that C02 levels in the atmosphere are rising as well. The oceans are the worlds largest reservoir of carbon, with 50 times the C02 found in the earths atmosphere. It is also estimated that one fourth to a third of the atmospheres C02 is absorbed by the ocea n every year, about 22 million tons a day. In a research study lead by the University of Southern Florida College of Marine Science, it was found that the oceans PH level had dropped by 0.026 units over the course of 15 years. The PH measurements were taken between the island of Oahu Hawaii and Kodiak Alaska and the previously mentioned numbers are the average PH drop for the entire span of ocean between those two Islands. That's over two thousand miles.

The principal investigator on the research, Professor Robert Byrne, said If this happens in a piece of ocean as big as a whole ocean basin, then this is a global phenomenon. The evidence for ocean acidification may not be as jaw dropping as the melting glaciers and ice caps, but it is evidence none the less. To me the science makes sense. More C02 in the air equals more C02 in the ocean making ocean water more acidic. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization estimates that the oceans acidity has increased by 30% since the industrial revolution. The UNESCO as well as others also predict that the oceans could be 150% more acidic by the end of the century. Judging by the research done by the USF and many others around the globe, I think that the oceans acidity is increasing. How could one take all these findings as a mere coincidence? I do not. Another sign of global warming can be found in earth's wildlife. Many species have found themselves on the brink of extinction due to sudden loss or change in their natural habitat. Take the polar bear for example. The polar bear has adapted perfectly to its environment and requires the ice sheets for hunting seals which are its primary source of food.Without the ice sheets the bears cant hunt and starve. As mentioned previously the polar ice sheets are disappearing more and more every year at an alarming rate, and as they disappear, so does the polar bears hunting ground. With the sudden loss of ice in the arctic, polar bears are having a hard time sustaining themselves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service put the polar bear on the threatened species list in 2008. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Report of 2005 said that polar bears are unlikely to survive the total loss of summer sea ice cover. Polar bears arent the only species showing suffering from changing environments. The North American pika is also disappearing. The pika is another animal accustomed to cold environments and can die when temperatures exceed just 78 degrees. As temperatures increase, pikas move into the mountains to avoid the heat. The problem is they eventually run out of mountain and die off as temperatures increase.

Other animals in danger include many species of waterfowl, sea turtles, whales, penguins and even lobsters. How are they all connected? They are all suffering because changes in their habitat due to rising temperatures! Is it so hard to make a connection? The last source of evidence I will go into is found in the atmosphere. Obviously a sign of global warming in the atmosphere is an increase in temperature! The World Meteorological Organization has reported that the decade of 2000 to 2009 was one of the hottest on record and that eight of the ten hottest years have happened since the year 2000. An increase in temperature would speed up the water cycle causing for more frequent storms and heavier precipitation. With that in mind, the 2007 IPCC report states that intense rain events have increased in frequency during the last 50 years. Increasing temperatures would also cause an increase in droughts in areas already commonly affected by them. The National Center For Atmospheric Research has reported that the area of earths surface suffering from drought has doubled since 1970. There are many theories to answer the question of why temperatures are increasing. Some believe that the thermohaline circulation of ocean water is to blame. Thermohaline circulation is not the circulation caused by the pull of the moon and suns gravity or wind, but the changes in water density. Researchers say that this kind of circulation in the oceans has slowed down in the last 30 years, and some blame this on the current rise in temperature. Another theory is that the variability of the suns brightness causes changes in cloud formation, ocean currents and winds. There are many theories, the list goes on and on. Theories as they may be, there is more research and evidence supporting some than others. One theory that I believe has enough evidence to almost become fact is that the rise in greenhouse gasses is mainly to blame for global warming. To put it simply greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in the earths atmosphere. The rise of global temperature almost mirrors the rise of greenhouse gas emissions from humans since the start of the 1900s.

According to the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of C02 humans put into the air has increased by 16 times since 1900. Could it really be just a coincidence that global climate change has become noticeable since that time? Look at all the evidence of global warming mentioned previously.Something I find amazing is that it isnt just one or two scientific organizations doing all the research and giving all the explanations. The facts speak for themselves. In my opinion global warming is a real thing and is probably caused by our greenhouse gas emissions. If you take all the possible explanations for global warming mentioned above and try to tie them all into the evidence for global warming mentioned above, some dont tie in as well as the theory of human influence thr ough greenhouse gas emissions. Although this is my opinion, the truth remains unproven and there are skeptics. In his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming author Christopher C. Horner writes that the earths climate is always changing and that the suns activity correlates more closely to global temperatures than C02 levels do. He gives good arguments and supports his data, but so does everyone else. As far as finding a solution to this problem, I think the best thing people could do is find another source of energy. Be it nuclear, wind or solar power doesnt really matter. Just as long as it works. If it is going to be effective, basically the entire world would have to do it. Its not enough for a community to go green to stop global warming. But there is no way the world is going to change its ways over night. Nor will there be a globally accepted substitute for fossil fuels found anytime soon. The best things to be done, are being done in my opinion. People and small organizations are doing what they can to go green and lessen their carbon footprint and people are looking for alternative sources of energy. If people keep searching, they are sure to find a way. Just like Thomas Edison and the light bulb. I doubt many people could comprehend what it would be like before he came out with it. Maybe that's how it will be.

In conclusion, evidence of global warming can be seen everywhere. What causes it? No one is sure, but most research points to our emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. What can we do? Again the answer is unclear but the best thing to do is keep trying and keep looking for solutions, one is bound to come up someday.

Bibliography

"Climate Change Impacts." www.edf.org. Environmental Defense Fund. Web. 3 Dec 2013. "Ice Core Data Helps Solve a Global Warming Mystery." www.scientificamerican.com. Scientific American, 01 Mar 2013. Web. 3 Dec 2013.

"Global Climate Change." www.nasa.gov. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Web. 3 Dec 2013.

Horner, Christopher. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism . 1st Ed. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007. Print.

"The Consequences of Global Warming on Glaciers and Sea Levels." www.nrdc.org. Natural Resources Defense Council . Web. 3 Dec 2013.