Scientists and politicians have long debated what should be easily proven or disproved as fact. Has the effect of mankind’s activities led to significant changes in the functioning of some of the planet’s basic systems or has it not? If there has been an effect, what caused it, what will its spin-off effects be and how can we mitigate the damage? This essay seeks to answer those questions.
Our planet is able to support life in part because of what is known as ‘the greenhouse effect’. Much like the panes of glass in a green house, the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere traps the heat from the sun thereby warming it up to a livable temperature. This has been going on for millenia but there is more carbon in our atmosphere than before which has led to hotter temperatures.
Some climate change skeptics look at long term trends and claim that there have always been fluctuations in the planet’s temperature. They have also pointed to the fact that some regions are recording their coldest temperatures in decades. This may be because the planet does not heat evenly. The fluctuations in temperature are still taking place but they occur at a higher temperature than has been observed in living memory.
Aside from temperatures rising too high for human and animal life to live comfortably, changes in the weather have resulted in alterations to our seasons. This has changed the bearing patterns of some trees and resulted in more destructive storms and hurricanes. It is expected that within the lifetime of some of the people who have already been born, polar ice caps will melt enough to submerge many of the planet’s coastal cites. Unfortunately, this is where the majority of humanity lives.
The future looks fairly bleak from a scientific perspective. As more countries amass wealth, the demand for the very things that produce the most carbon emissions grows as well. This increases the rate of climate change rather than slowing it down. It may take an immediate, drastic shift in the way we eat, do business, travel and build before any significant change takes place and even then it is possible that too much damage has already been done. Future generations may learn from our mistakes and take better care of the next planet.
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