No Planet B

Alexa Ward, Editor-in-Chief

Global warming has been a highly discussed topic in recent years, but many don’t know or understand its origins or severity.

Some believe that the Sun could be the cause of global warming trends, but scientists have been measuring the energy output of the sun since 1978 and they show a slight drop in solar iridescence (measure of sun’s energy) so, scientists have no reason to believe that the Sun itself is responsible for global warming.

“If the warming were caused by a more active Sun, then scientists would expect to see warmer temperatures in all layers of the atmosphere,” According to Nasa. “Instead, they have observed a cooling in the upper atmosphere, and a warming at the surface and in the lower parts of the atmosphere. That’s because greenhouse gases are trapping heat in the lower atmosphere.”

The actual cause of global warming is human activities increasing greenhouse gas concentration.

“Human activities (primarily the burning of fossil fuels) have fundamentally increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, warming the planet,” according to Nasa.

The Greenhouse Effect refers to when certain gases in the atmosphere, such as water vapor, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane, block heat from escaping.

Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. It increases as the earth’s temperature warms, but it also increases clouds and precipitation, creating feedback.

Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by 48% since the start of the industrial revolution.

The long-term effects of changing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are hard to predict, but overall, we can expect (and in some cases already see) warmer temperatures worldwide, melting glaciers, varying levels of precipitation, sea level rise and crop yield affected.

Places across the U.S. are already facing direct consequences of climate change. Experts in Minnesota say they are already experiencing the effects of climate change.

“You don’t have to look very far to see something in your life that you care about—whether that’s economic impacts; impacts to your community’s infrastructure; your ability to have clean, safe drinking water; your ability to go recreate in our forests or lovely lakes,” Heidi Roop, an assistant professor of climate science at the University of Minnesota said. “This iconic Minnesota is at risk from a changing climate and we’re already seeing those changes unfold before our eyes.”

Minnesota has warmed three degrees in the last 125 years and its annual precipitation has increased 3.4 inches.

“It looks like we’re getting hotter either way. But the question is: Will we get hotter kind of gradually, or do we get hotter in a way that we’re not prepared for at all?” State climatologist Kenneth Blumenfeld said.

Many people blame eccentric billionaires and business monopolies for climate change and are waiting for them to act, but in reality, it’s the average person’s everyday decisions that affect the environment more than anything else.

“We can push the carbon transition. We just choose not to,” Henry Mance, reporter for the Financial Times said. “Nearly one-quarter of Britons say they’d be willing never to fly for leisure, but only 8% say they’re doing it. Half say they’d limit their meat and dairy intake to three meals a week, but only 14% say they’re doing that.”

Often when one person makes a step towards bettering the environment and aiding the ending of climate change, others around them follow in suit.

“Studies in the US, Germany and Sweden show that solar panels spread in ripples: one household’s decision may influence the neighbors,” Mance said.

Despite evidences all around, many still believe climate change is naturally occurring or isn’t happening at all. According to a 2016 survey, 31% of U.S. adults think that climate change is naturally occurring and 20% believe there is no evidence of climate change.

Climate change started with people, but people still have the power to stop it.

“Change only happens when individuals take action,” Aliya Haq, deputy director of NRDC’s Clean Power Plan initiative said. “There’s no other way, if it doesn’t start with people.”

There are several ways to aid the end of climate change, such as using renewable energy sources, reducing water usage and limiting motor vehicle use, but according to Haq, the best way to help stop climate change is to talk to friends and family about it and make sure your elected officials are making good decisions.

 

Sources:

Nasa

Financial Times

CBS Local

Pew Research

National Resource Defense Council