I am a running start student that is currently attending Lake Washington Institute of Technology. For my final paper in my English 102 class I decided to write about global climate change. As a freshman in high school I learned about how serious this issue was from watching a documentary in class. I wanted to learn more about it but never had the time to. This final gave me the opportunity to learn more about this issue and how it affects Earth.
For the past several decades, people have debated and argued over the issue of global climate change. Global climate change is a change in climate and weather patterns due to an increase in greenhouse gases and carbon emissions made from fossil fuels. Many people believe that global climate change is a real issue while others either do not believe in global climate change or are very skeptical about it. This paper will discuss if global climate change is real and how it impacts the planet by using evidence and information from groups and websites that have dedicated their pages to spreading awareness on global climate change. This paper will also include a response to a common counterargument that is used by those who do not believe in this issue. Looking at the evidence, climate change is a major issue that people are facing globally. It can negatively impact our way of life and our planet’s ecosystem.
Keywords: global, climate, change, ecosystems, carbon, emissions, greenhouse, gases, fossil, fuels
Global Climate Change: A Real Problem That Is Impacting Our World
Global climate change is an issue with many sides. Some people believe that climate change is real, man-made, and impacting the planet. Others believe that climate change is real, but it is just the Earth’s natural process. And some people do not believe in climate change at all and believe there is nothing happening to the planet. So, which is it? Is global climate change real? Is global climate change man-made? How has global climate change affected ecosystems? How has global climate change affected humans and creatures living within those ecosystems? Using facts and primary sources coming from websites and people who are devoted to spreading awareness on the global climate change, it can be concluded that global climate change is real and is man-made. Due to the increase greenhouse gases and carbon emissions from people using a large amount of fossil fuels, global climate change has negatively affected our planet’s ecosystems and the many lives of those who live within the ecosystems.
Is Global Climate Change Real?
Global climate change has been determined to be a highly concerning issue by climate change researchers and climatologists. A big group known for research on climate change and the environment is the EPA. The EPA (2020a), also known as United States Environmental Protection Agency, was first formed to help reduce pollution and spread awareness of energy conservation. They then started doing research on global climate change as a major issue. According to an article on a study on trends and indicators of climate change made by the EPA, the “Average temperatures have risen across the contiguous 48 states since 1901, with an increased rate of warming over the past 30 years” (para 3). And this is only in the United States. Globally, the 10 warmest years in history all occurred since 1998 (2020a, para 3).
Skeptics and nonbelievers often have counterarguments against climate change. A popular counterargument that people use is that climate change naturally happens, and it is nothing to be worried about. The reasoning behind this is that, in the past, the Earth has had cycles of warming and cooling. There was also a natural increase and decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases. Some believe that the Earth could possibly be going through another cycle right now. Another counter argument that is used is how some people say that they do not feel a change in the climate and that “it is still really cold in the winter”. Another popular one is that the research is fake, and nothing is occurring.
Even though it is true that the Earth has gone through cycles of warming and cooling, there was also some dangerous results after these cycles ended. According to the Rainforest Alliance (2017), the aftermath of each cycle resulted in “serious environmental disruptions, including mass extinctions” and that the cause of this was because “humans are emitting greenhouse gases at a far higher rate than any previous increase in history” (para 3). The Rainforest Alliance is an international organization that is dedicated to helping rainforests and sustaining ecosystems. They also are working on preventing global climate change from worsening by using research and slowing down deforestation.
It still has been cold during the winters, including some very low temperatures, but the amount of unusually cold temperatures has become rare ([EPA], 2020a, para 4). Also 97% of climatologists and scientists believe in global climate change and that it is man-made (Anderegg et al., 2010, para 1). While some people can think that global climate change is not real, almost all climatologists agree that it has become a very serious issue that more people should care about.
Is Global Climate Change Man-made?
Many people debate if global climate change is man-made, but most climatologists have determined that global climate change is man-made. The cause of this is from the mass amounts of greenhouse gases that we generate. We generate large amounts of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases every day. Those greenhouse gases increase the planet temperature by trapping and absorbing heat ([EPA], 2020b, para 1). According to Holly Shaftel (2018), a scientist who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and as a climate change educator at NASA, “human activities emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, raising Earth’s average temperature and bringing a range of consequences to our ecosystems” (para 4). Earth’s global climate is changing at an abnormally fast rate; if Earth’s climate changes were caused by natural forces, the rate of change would be much slower (Rafferty, 2018, para 5).
Years of constant burning and usage of fossil fuels have begun to add up and have created massive amounts of greenhouse gases. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, there has been a constant burn of fossil fuels. Some examples of fossil fuels are coal, oil, and natural gases that are used in factories as fuel for machines. Today the amount of greenhouse gases has increased by a significant amount due to the amount of carbon emissions that humans are still producing. Mark New (2019), a journalist who has been researching and working on climate change causes and detection for 20 years, describes how our daily activities like driving cars which burns fossil fuels and the techniques used in farming created a mass increase in greenhouses gases (para 13). Transportation like cars, boats, and planes use fossil fuels as a fuel source. Factories use fossil fuels to create and manufacture goods and resources. The agricultural industry produces greenhouse gases like methane from cows and soil. Everyday people all over the world are continuously producing greenhouse gases from fossil fuels.
How Has Global Climate Change Impact Ecosystems?
Global climate change can cause negative impacts on ecosystems. Many skeptics and nonbelievers often say that they have not seen any effects of global climate change. However, the impacts are very visible. A good example of this is the melting ice sheets, glaciers, and polar ice caps in the Artic. The melting is then contributing to the rise in sea level. Due to the sea level rising from the melting ice caps, those who live on the coast or on islands are or will be affected. The water is starting to rise to the point where it can be a problem for those who live on the land or near the water. This sea level rise can also affect the coral reefs. Coral reefs are important to the ocean’s ecosystem because they can act as habitats and homes for ocean life and can help protect land on the seashore from storms and waves. As the sea level rises, the sedimentation on the sea floor can rise and smother the coral reefs, damaging them (NOAA, 2015, para 7).
Other parts of the Earth’s many ecosystems are also affected. According to Alan Buis (2011), a scientist who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and as a climate change educator at NASA, “climate change will disrupt the ecological balance between interdependent and often endangered plant and animal species, reduce biodiversity and adversely affect Earth’s water, energy, carbon and other element cycles” (para 4). This can heavily damage many ecosystems because this can lead to a lack of essential resources like food and water.
Weather is an important part of ecosystems because it can influence what happens in the ecosystem. Weather can impact the amount of water an ecosystem can get or the temperature of the environment. However, global climate change has affected the weather of many ecosystems. As the climate fluctuates, it can cause changes to the weather. According to the EPA, “Scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events such as heat waves and large storms are likely to become more frequent or more intense with human-induced climate change” (2020a, para 1). Natural disasters and harsh weather conditions have increased over the past few decades. Flooding, droughts, wildfires, storms, cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons have become more common due to the climate changing. The amount of rain an ecosystem gets can change as well. Some ecosystems get more rain than usual that can cause flooding, while ecosystems that get too little rain can experience droughts. This can affect the plant life in the ecosystems. The more the climate changes, the more negative impacts it can have on the planet’s ecosystems.
How has global climate change affected humans and creatures living within those ecosystems?
Climate change has a bigger impact on humans compared to what most people think. An example of this is our food supply. Crops grown on farms are becoming harder to grow. Droughts caused by a lack of rain can affect the seeds and plants needed to grow fruits and vegetables. Climate change can also increase the spread of diseases. According to the EPA, “More frequent and intense extreme heat events can increase illnesses and deaths, especially among vulnerable populations, and damage some crops” (2020a, para 2). As it becomes hotter and more humid, disease carriers like mosquitoes and ticks begin to thrive more. Diseases like Lyme disease and malaria can spread more easily and possibly killing many lives.
From a financial standpoint, climate change can have an impact on people’s bank accounts. As the number of natural disasters and harsh weather conditions increase, the chances of possible property damage also increase. 3 years ago, hurricane Florence caused 22 billion dollars’ worth of property damage and took the lives of 50 people (Irfan, 2018, para 1). After the hurricane, many climatologists believed that climate change was behind such a devastating hurricane like hurricane Florence.
Humans are not the only living beings that are being affected by climate change. Animals have also been heavily affected by climate change. The number of animals living in ecosystems that had their ecosystems changed from climate change has increased by a large amount. In the past 250 years, 571 species been confirmed extinct, and 30,178 species are currently on the 2021 endangered species list (Hrubenja, 2021, para 3). Examples of animals currently endangered are the animals in the arctic like penguins and polar bears who need ice to live on and catch food. However, due to an increase in temperatures, the ice they hunt and live on is melting away. Other animals like the North Atlantic cod had their whole ecosystem altered because of the ocean currents changing (Dell’Amore, 2021, para 15). As time goes on, more and more animals are being impacted by global climate change. Some populations are starting to go down while others are forever gone. We need to start getting on the right track to not only help ourselves but the other living creatures that we share this planet with.
So, which is it? To answer that question, it is that global climate change is real and is manmade. It can impact the many ecosystems of our planet. It can affect the many species of animals that live within those ecosystems. It can even impact us in various of ways. Even though today some people still argue if global climate change is real, there is growing agreement that climate change is real and that we need to do something about it. However, now the question is how can we slow it down or stop it? We can start by living an eco-friendlier lifestyle. We can stop wasting resources, recycle more, and use more renewable energy sources. However, the best way is by spreading awareness about global climate change. The more people who know about this issue, the faster we can prevent them from harming our future.
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