Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Debate is Over: Climate Change is Here

By Emily Miles
February 25, 2010

With all of the nonsense portrayed in the media over climate change lately, it is hardly a wonder that there is still a significant minority of Americans that do not believe in its existence. Yet, with the average American generating about 5 tons of carbon dioxide each year, it is only common sense that humans should and do in fact have such a large-scale impact as to affect the earth’s natural processes. Science can only agree with this. For example, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), comprised of over 750 of the world’s top climatologists, says that climate change is now “unequivocal, as is now evident from observation of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level, and we humans are the cause.” The IPCC also states that “the warming trend over the last 50 years (1955 to 2005) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years.” As human industrialism and population growth has especially increased over the past 55 years, this is compelling evidence that humans are the root of this current climate crisis. Even worse, our destructive behaviors are causing a synergistic effect to occur. With increases in oceanic acidification, oceans are now giving off carbon dioxide rather than absorbing it like it has done in the past. As tundra thaws, global warming will be further increased as sequestered green house gases trapped within the soil are released. And remember, it is a scientist’s duty to be skeptical. Yet, according to a 2008 poll by academics of the University of Illinois, 97 percent of all climatologists agree that climate change is man-made. The evidence is clear, climate change exists, and action must be taken now.

Climate change is not only an environmental issue, but it is also, and more importantly, an ethical issue. This crisis will drastically affect humans on a global scale and will hit developing countries the hardest. By the end of this century, according to a University of Washington study led by David Battisti, about half of the world could face severe food shortages. Severe droughts in many areas could affect water supplies, while many areas such as the Middle East already suffer from an insufficient amount of water. The Pentagon has even declared climate change an issue of national security, and, according to its public report called An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implication for United States National Security, “Violence and disruption stemming from the stresses created by abrupt changes in the climate pose a different kind of threat to national security than we are accustomed to today. Military confrontation may be triggered by a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food and water… conflicts over land and water use are likely to become more severe—and more violent.” This general instability on the planet caused by climate change could cause millions of deaths worldwide and keep us from realizing our dreams of reaching world peace. By continuing to ignore the effects of our environmental actions, we will not only hurting the planet, but we will also be hurting ourselves and our fellow human beings.

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