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Climate change was first predicted by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius in 1986. However, it became a national issue until June of 1988. Even though the situation has been widely discussed since then, very little has been done to fix things. As a result, the Earth has grown hotter over the last century, with the hottest recorded years have all occurred in the last 11. In the last century, the planet’s average temperature has increased by one degree Celsius and is predicted to increase another three to five degrees in the next 100 years if no changes are made.
Some experts believe that there are effects of climate change that may be irreversible. For example, there have been heatwaves in Canada and the Northern United States. In July 2021, Portland, Oregon, was forced to open cooling shelters for those whose health was at risk from the heat when the temperatures climbed to 115 degrees F, well above the previously recorded in Pacific Northwest.
Sea Ice has melted in the last 10 years faster than it had in the last 1,000, and the rate at which the ocean is heating has not been seen for 11,000 years since the end of the last ice age. As a result, the melting of glaciers is expected to impact the Earth for centuries or even millennia.
Atmospheric methane levels have increased more than doubled since the onset of industrialization and are continuing to rise. Greenhouse gasses are higher than they have even been in 3.6 million years. The United States has emitted five billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere since 1850.
The source of climate change is quite clear — the dumping of greenhouse gasses into the air and the constant pollution of the land and sea. Moreover, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned the world of climate change’s imminent and irreversible effects for over 30 years and has received no significant response from any government. According to the panel, the most extreme effects can be prevented if action is taken immediately.
Drastic measures need to be made now and continue to ensure the survival of the planet. Natural sources of energy need to be found and implemented on a large scale. Solar, water and, wind power all exist, yet none are used on a large enough scale to reduce burning fossil fuel.
If nothing is done to stop climate change, debilitating heatwaves will increasingly become the norm worldwide, resulting in severe drought and rising oceans causing island nations to be submerged in the sea.
Written by Joseph Nelson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Wall Street Journal: Some Climate Change Effects May Be Irreversible, U.N. Panel Says; by Robert Lee Hotz and Timothy Puko
The New York Times: The Science of Climate Change Explained: Facts, Evidence, and Proof; by Julia Rosen
Nature: IPCC climate report: Earth is warmer than it’s been in 125,000 years; by Jeff Tollefson
Featured Image by Denis Felikson, Univ. of Texas Courtesy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Jerry Michalski’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License