by NICOLE CARDINALI Staff Writer
Climate change and global warming used to seem like such futuristic topics. However, recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that these problems are not so futuristic, but actually present concerns.
All corners of the world are being affected by the human-induced change. Torrential downpours are increasing in the wet regions, water is becoming more scarce in dry regions, heat waves are becoming more common and increasingly severe, forests are dying because of insects that thrive in the heat, and wildfires are getting much worse.
The reason for all this change is because most of the world received an average warming of less than two degrees Fahrenheit in the last decade.
Earth’s temperature depends on the balance between the energy entering the environment as well as the energy leaving. When sunlight reaches Earth’s surface, greenhouse gases such as water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane that absorb energy are slowing down or preventing the release of infrared radiation used to cool the Earth. This is known as the Greenhouse Effect.
If greenhouse gases continue to get trapped in the atmosphere, by the end of the century, the Earth will be 10 degrees warmer.
“Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods,” said scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel that made the National Climate Assessment.
In the Northeast, there are increasing torrential rains. This causes the sea level to rise and may result in flooding much like the flooding caused by Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.
Severe droughts and water shortages in the Southwest will create more competition among farmers, energy producers, natives, and plant and animal life for the increasingly scarce resources they need.
In the short run, the Midwest will now be able to have a longer growing season for crops, as well as a longer shipping season on the Great Lakes. Eventually, too much damage will be done and the Midwest will no longer have an advantage.
“I think it’s really scary and alarming that our Earth is changing. If we don’t do anything to stop it, eventually it will be destroyed,” freshman Jenna Cutrone said.
The National Climate Assessment is the third report of its kind in 14 years, but the most urgent of all. Scientists consider the current climate change an incipient crisis.
One of the most concerning topics talked about in this assessment was the rising frequency of torrential downpours. This effect was the most expected due to the warmer ocean water evaporating into the warmer atmosphere that is now able to hold more water vapor that will fall as rain or snow.
The amount of heavy rainfall has increased by 71 percent in the Northeast over the past half- century. Rainfall jumped 37 percent in the Midwest, and 27 percent in the South.
The effects of global warming will not happen at a steady pace. While most of the country has become warmer or felt the effects of the climate change, the Southeast has barely warmed, and a section of southern Alabama has even cooled down a bit.
The American scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that by the end of the century, sea level will rise to about one to four, even six, feet globally due to the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps and ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica. Along the east coast the level will rise even more due to the already sinking land.
Even if all emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities suddenly stopped, the Earth would still warm up by .5 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, choices made now will effect the amount of additional future global warming. Reducing the amount of gases burned by 70 percent will limit the global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
“We better start taking better care of our environment. It’s really important that we door else the world is going to be a total different place and even uninhabitable,” said freshman Shrina Parikh.
What scares you the most about the global climate change and how do you think we should fix this?