Human emissions have caused increases in the rate of global warming. Global warming describes the gradual increase of earth's atmosphere and oceans. The planet’s temperature has risen about 2 degrees in the past century. This may not seem like much, but to put it in perspective a video explaining climate change states the fact that “heat from human emissions is roughly equal to 400,000 hiroshima atomic bombs exploding every single day” ("Climate Change Explained"). This allows us to understand how much we are contributing to the problem. It is believed that we contribute to the problem by adding to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect happens when radiation is trapped in the earth's atmosphere and cannot escape into space. Gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane are known to trap this radiation in large amounts. Christopher Keating from Salem Press further explains that “if the composition of the atmosphere changes to include more of these greenhouse gases, the atmosphere retains more heat and becomes warmer” (Keating). Essentially, he’s stating that when we emit more gases from factories or driving cars, were changing the composition and the atmosphere, in turn, heating the surface. It is believed that the more gases we emit into the air, the quicker the temperature will rise.
How is the issue of climate change more pressing now than it has seemed in the past?
The year 2016 has been named the warmest year in the history of the earth. Before that, 2015 was the warmest. The year before that, 2014. This shows us how the trend has recently been increasing at a more rapid rate. In a recent article, NASA confirmed exactly this when they explained that the trend in increasing global temperatures has been seen for the past 3 years (NASA). Each year new surface temperature records are set that surpass the previous year. The earth undergoes many different periods of cooling and warming. Recent warming rates, however, are much more dramatic than they ever have been before. In an editorial by Joplin Globe, it is explained that the national oceanic and atmospheric administration says that “most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001" (Globe). In short, of the 17 hottest years ever to occur, 16 of them have occurred in the last 17 years. It is believed that the recent change in our climate is due to the type of lifestyle we have developed over the past few decades.
The amount of carbon dioxide is one of the biggest contributing factors to an increase in temperature. In addition to this is our consumption of meat products and our methods of agriculture. Our industrial lifestyle full of factories and transportation emissions is what's causing such a recent spike in global temperatures. This is confirmed in an article written by NASA. They explain that “the change in climate has been driven largely by increase in carbon dioxide and other emissions that humans are putting into the atmosphere” (NASA). The growth of the population is creating the need for more transportation methods as well as the resources needed for feeding the growing population. Our means of agriculture have been found to have a greater impact on global warming than any of our other emission factors. An article by The Record discusses the startling facts that greenhouse gas livestock production causes 37% of methane emissions. Methane is a gas that has a warming effect that is 23% higher than carbon dioxide. Overall this has a 296 times greater effect on global warming than carbon dioxide (Renault). There are many things we can do worldwide that will help decrease the impact of these factors and how much they affect our earth.
What actions should we take to stop, or at least slow the warming process?
The most effective actions we can take are reducing our meat consumption and energy sources that emit greenhouse gases. In a video explaining climate change, the narrator states that the best things we can do include taking public transit, buying an electric car, and using solar panels. But a big one is eating less meat ("Climate Change Explained"). As previously discussed, livestock and meat consumption are believed to be the biggest contributors to global warming. In an article by The Report it tells us that Livestock production is responsible for 65 per cent of global nitrous oxide emissions (Knickerbocker). This tells us that consuming less meat products will be what has the greatest impact on healing our earth's atmosphere. Our population is growing rapidly and lots of people need food sources. However, if nothing is done soon, there will be consequences.
If we continue down the same path and emit greenhouse gases, the ice caps will melt causing sea levels to rise great amounts. In an article on global warming by NASA, it is confirmed that the rising temperatures are causing higher sea levels in the arctic because of the melting ice (NASA). This doesn't seem like much of a problem now but if actions don’t change soon, the consequences will become much more severe. For example, in a video that explains climate change, they state that if climate changes are not managed soon, many major coastal cities will be underwater. This will cause these people to become refugees who will need to flee in search of a new place to live ("Climate Change Explained"). Our actions everyday contribute to the global temperature and it is up to us to make a change before the consequences are detrimental