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Global warming is one of the most controversial issues of this decade. Numerous scientists have proven that the earth is warming at an unprecedented rate, hitting peaks not seen in recent history, at an uncommonly rapid pace in the earth’s history of natural warming. Skeptics, on the other hand, believe that the earth is warming, but not at the fault of humans, presuming that the earth is currently hitting a high-temperature peak in its natural warming cycle. No matter which side is correct, the earth is being ravaged by human activity. Whether or not this human activity is contributing to climate change is becoming irrelevant. Even if global warming proves to be false, people still need to change their ways in order to save the earth from total destruction.
Denying or debating global warming is no longer relevant. The earth is changing and humans are inflicting an unhealthy amount of damage to the biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. These damages are measurable and often visible to the naked eye. Rainforest destruction, rapidly melting glaciers and decimated species are no figment of the imagination. President Obama has confirmed that climate change is affecting us now, even though one in four Americans are skeptical of global warming and its immediate issue. John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight said it best: “People’s opinion on a fact, in this case the reality of global warming, does not matter when 97 percent of the world’s scientists disagree with you.” Skepticism does not matter. The earth is in trouble and people need to change even if global warming is false.
Many human activities are detrimental to the environment. Clear-cutting forests to provide more grazing land for livestock displaces thousands of species and is harmful to many mammals. Humans unsustainable desire for palm oil, now the most widely used vegetable oil, has caused endangered orangutans to lose their homes and often their lives. Fifty percent of the world’s species reside in rainforests and they must be protected.
Sea levels are rising, which is evident in many places including the United States. New Orleans is slowly being submerged, along with a large chunk of the Louisiana coast. The massive amount of earth’s water is warming. This warming is also causing glaciers to melt, with the Antarctic shelf melting into the ocean a main concern recently.
The extraction and use of fossil fuels is detrimental in many ways. Extracting and transporting oil has seen many mishaps in the past, from the Deep Water Horizon explosion in 2010-which is still affecting people in the Gulf- to the ongoing debate over the complexities of the Keystone Pipeline. Burning fossil fuels is also damaging, releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, which is measurably detrimental to the atmosphere, creating a layer of gases which trap heat.
Ocean life is struggling for survival. Unsustainable fishing practices, such as mass fishing methods which have an extraordinary amount of useless by-catch, are decimating fishing populations and skewing complex ecosystems of the ocean. Toxins are affecting ocean life, causing problems such as mercury poisoning in humans who consume them.
Whether or not global warming is indeed real is irrelevant. Humans will often deny the changes that scientist report so they may go about life as they know it with no qualms. However, this attitude is detrimental. More people need to understand that the earth is in trouble. Man-made pollution and unsustainable living practices, including supporting damaging businesses such as the palm oil industry, must be curbed in order to help the earth balance itself once again. People may deny science and insist that global warming is false, but they still must change for the sake of helping the earth battle and win its war against industrialization.
Opinion by Courtney Heitter