Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year By JUSTIN GILLIS

This month (January, 2017), scientists reported that 2016 was Earth's hottest year on record, beating the previous record set by 2015, which beat the record set by 2014. Many believe that the temperatures are getting high enough to threaten the human population and an even greater threat to the natural world. For reference, out of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have occurred since 2000.

This news comes just days after President Donald Trump's inauguration. His presidency worries many environmental activists, due to his longstanding ignorance of climate change and its environmental impacts. 

Donald Trump's Tweet Regarding Climate Change

"Scientists have calculated that the heat accumulating throughout the Earth because of human emissions is roughly equal to the energy that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs exploding across the planet every day." - NYT

The global temperature problem is causing a whole host of problems; coastal flooding, drought, and habitat disruption, to name a few. Despite pleas from different individuals and environmental agencies, congress has continued to ignore the growing issue. NASA calculates that Earth's surface has warmed by one half of a degree in the past 3 years, an enormous change for such a short time.

Now that the El Nino event has ended, scientists were hoping to see a decrease in the unnaturally high temperatures. Unfortunately, they have persisted. In the Arctic Ocean, temperatures this fall ran more than 20 degrees above historical averages. In India, the town of Phalodi experienced a day with a record high of 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

With expanding oceans and melting ice caps, scientists predict that sea levels will inevitably rise more than 15 feet. This will devastate coastal cities around the world, causing extreme economic impacts.

Analysis: Global warming is happening at an accelerating rate. It likely will not affect older generations, but will have devastating effects on younger ones. If we don't begin taking action now, it will only happen faster. There are many people who believe that Global Warming is happening, but it is not caused by human activity, and many that don't believe in it at all. Whatever the reason, it's clear that as a population we need to work together to cease and reverse the toll we have taken on our planet. The rising sea level, abnormally hot temperatures, unusual drought, and acidified seas are plenty indication that something must be done to change the way we use (or abuse) planet Earth.

"The average annual temperature for the contiguous United States was 54.9°F, which was 2.9°F above the 20th century average. This was the second warmest year of the 122 years on record, behind 2012 (55.3°F), and the 20th consecutive warmer-than-normal year for the United States (1997–2016)." - NOAA

Big Takeaways: There are several different things that people can do to take action against climate change. On a personal level, remembering to do little things in order to consume less energy. Carpooling, turning off lights, switching to Eco-friendly energy sources, and using less plastic are a few. These things help reduce the carbon emissions that are contributing to the greenhouse effect.

On a larger and more political scale, the government needs to take action against climate change. With the beliefs of the new president, it is more important than ever to try and convince your fellow citizens to take action. Writing your representatives and senators about your concerns is a good place to start. Joining local environmental groups and petitioning against harmful environmental projects can help even more.

Whether you call it Climate Change, Global Warming, or a Hoax Perpetuated by the Chinese, something is happening, and it needs to stop. We only have one planet, and without it, all of the money and profit we make by exploiting it doesn't matter. If we continue to abuse our planet, we will all one day be refugees of Mother Earth.

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Caroline Kushel
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