Saturday, January 30, 2010
The first question is, is the planet actually getting warmer?
According to National Geographic, there are signs of warming all over. Sea levels are rising abnormally, says Gelu Selugiuc. Thicker rings in trees demonstrate hotter growing periods (National Geographic), and those rings are showing us hotter periods in recent years. And an article on ScienceDaily points to studies of sediment layers as further evidence of the increasing temperatures.
In addition, there is truth in numbers. Thomas L. Friedman says in Hot, Flat, and Crowded, "The general agreement among climate experts is that the earth has already warmed on average by 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) above its level in 1750, with the most rapid rise occurring since 1970 (Friedman, pg. 16)." And while it is true that normal fluctuations in average temperature have occurred naturally, the problem is that our current heat wave is happening at a much faster rate than in the past.
So the planet's hotter. Being from Minnesota, everyone I know talks about moving someplace warmer anyway. Why is a warming Earth bad?
Environmental Graffiti says there are 5 deadly effects: 1) spreading diseases, 2) increased natural disasters, 3) increased risk of drought and heat waves, 4) economical impacts, and 5) melting polar ice caps. The impact that each of these will have on humanity, not to mention ecosystems and other life, are so far reaching that one blog post won't cut it. Just Google "why is global warming bad?" to get started on your own research.
Basically, I see global warming as a slow (though speeding up) path to disaster. Not for me, but for my future generations. And I am not okay with leaving that legacy to my children.
Got it, it's a problem. Are we sure it's humanity's fault?
Sure, some global warming is normal, and greenhouse gases keep our planet the temperature it's supposed to be. The problem is when greenhouse gases increase unnaturally, our thermal blanket gets too thick and keeps too much heat in. This is what is currently happening. According to National Geographic, by drilling into polar ice sheets, scientists access bubbles which give us a picture of what air quality was like at the time the ice formed. This research has shown that concentrations of greenhouse gases have been steadily increasing since the industrial revolution.
And it is the carbons humans emit that are causing this blanket to thicken, which is why the earth is warming at a faster than normal rate. According to an article by the BBC, things like burning fossil fuels, deforesting, and methane released from agricultural animal waste all contribute to an unhealthy increase in greenhouse gases.
Okay, so humans are causing it. then the only question left to ask is, what do we need to do to fix it?
And from this, we circle back to the first day I started this blog. There are so many things we can do differently in order to stop this, and many other, negative trends. I don't mean that we should go pre-industrial. Technology and research have taken us to new levels of social responsibility if we use them right. We can move forward in a more responsible way by learning from the past.
What can you do on an individual level? Please continue to read our posts. Make your own informed decisions about what you will do to make a positive impact. Start basic-reduce, reuse, recycle. We are just one family making our personal choices to be more responsible. Please post your own comments about what you do to leave the planet a little better. We are always looking for new ways to revolutionize our existence.