The Truth About Our Current Climate Crisis

There has been much in the news lately, especially around late September, regarding the climate crisis that is happening around the world. There are many conflicting opinions about global climate change and how long we have as a population to fix this problem. That is if there even is a problem at all, which many people believe that there is not. So, here is the truth about our current climate crisis. 

First off, global warming is not the proper name for what is actually going on with the Earth. Global climatic change is the phrase that most scientists now use because the planet is not just getting warmer, but weather patterns and the overall climate is changing. Climate Change can simply be defined as “any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time which includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer.” The phrase global warming puts off a lot of people because our winters seem to be getting colder, which they are. This is because of the weakening of the polar vortex in the arctic due to rising temperatures, and this sends colder air and stronger storms away from the poles. This is one of the reasons why it is important to address this overall issue as global climate change.  

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So, what causes global climate change? The answer to this is a rise in greenhouse gasses, which include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone, with carbon dioxide being the leader in this case. These greenhouse gasses are mainly released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. The most common fossil fuel that is burned is oil. It is applied in cars, jets, roads, roofs and many others. The emission of fossil fuels causes an increase in carbon dioxide, which causes holes to be created in the ozone layer which blocks earth from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Since there are now holes in this layer, UV radiation increases, which then causes the overall temperature of earth to rise. Additionally, this increase in carbon dioxide and air pollutants not only causes holes in the ozone layer, but when they are collected in the atmosphere they absorb sunlight and solar radiation that has bounced off the earth's surface. Under normal conditions, this radiation would go back out into space. However, these pollutants trap that radiation and heat and hold it in the atmosphere, causing an increase in temperature. This cause of GCC is known as the greenhouse effect. Both of these causes of GCC are connected. An increase in carbon dioxide causes more holes in the ozone layer, which causes more radiation, which causes more radiation to be trapped in the pollutants in the air, causing global climate change. This is one big climactic mess. 

Besides rising temperatures, there are many other outcomes of GCC. These include melting glaciers, snowfall that occurs earlier in the season, severe droughts and rising sea levels. All types of living environments from farms to cities can face troublesome new insects, heat waves, heavy rainfall and an increase in flooding. This disruption of habitats could lead to species extinction. Finally, allergies, asthma and infectious disease outbreaks will become more common due to an increase in pollen and air pollution and conditions that are favorable to disease-causing insects and pathogens.

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According to the official NASA website, here are some important numbers regarding GCC:

Carbon Dioxide- ↑ 412 ppm

Temperature- ↑ 1.9 °F since 1880 

Ice Sheets- ↓ 413 gigatons per year

Sea Level-  ↑ 3.3 millimeters per year

Our planet is struggling, and if major corporations don't do anything to help our planet in the next few decades, we could be facing a major decline in biodiversity. However, the entire population has some work to do as well to help with this issue. Here are some ways you can help reduce the effect that GCC has on our planet!

  • Reduce usage of water, such as turning off the faucet when brushing teeth, and avoid taking baths.

  • Eating less red meat, because the diet fed to cows results in a large production of methane into the atmosphere. Now, we are not saying that everyone should be vegan but having at least one or two days a week where you consume no meat can help. 

  • Using alternative forms of transportation, such as walking or biking to work a few days a week if possible, and carpool to places is you can.

  • Reduce the usage of single-use plastics that are greatly harming our oceans

  • Switch to solar or wind energy to reduce the release of carbon dioxide. If this is not an option, use LED bulbs for light and only turn on the AC and heat when it is absolutely needed. 
  • Finally, spread the facts about global climate change to your college, community, or even to just your friends! You can do this!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash