“Increases in air and water temperatures, reduced frost days, increased frequency and intensity of heavy downpours, a rise in sea level, and reduced snow cover” are in the future of the human race unless we take action immediately to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (“Global Climate Change” 9; “Background”). Before proceeding into the full depth of human-induced global warming, context should be given as to the meaning of commonly used terms. Global warming is the “recent increase in the world’s temperature that is believed to be caused by the increase of certain gases ... in the atmosphere” (Merriam-Webster). Climate change, similar to global warming, is defined as changes in the global climate due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gasses. Though similar, it is important to distinguish between climate change and global warming. Greenhouse gases are simply gases that reflect radiation and keep it from being radiated into space. The most abundant greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and groups of chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (“Climate Change Causes”). Lastly, the greenhouse effect is a process in which greenhouse gases warm the Earth’s surface. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of these definitions, interference by self-interested parties, or a lack of technical knowledge in the public, that cause supposed disbelief in global warming. In a mass polling, researchers found that “36% [of those polled] say warming is occurring ‘mostly because of natural changes in the atmosphere’ ... about one-in-ten (11%) say ‘there is no solid evidence that the Earth is getting warmer’” (“Scientific Achievements Prominent” 39). The facts, stu...
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..., methane up to 12 years, nitrous oxide up to 114 years, and perfluoromethane around 50,000 years (Cubasch et al. Technical Summary C.1)! These problems are long lasting, and only fix themselves after long amounts of time. Atmospheric concentrations are building up rapidly. There will be dangerous changes in our food systems; perhaps this will hit humans the hardest. Changes in local warming affect crops drastically, with 20–80% losses in crop yields depending on temperature changes between 0.5 to 4 degrees Celsius (“5 Impacts Next” 161)! Climate change affects all complex organisms, including humans. It affects all established systems, such as those of our food, transportation, and structural systems, along with ecological and social systems. Abrupt, large-scale changes are expected as well. Changes are occurring now, and will keep occurring unless something is done.
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