Climate change is a highly debated topic in our world today. Within the past 20 years, research has undoubtedly proven that the atmosphere is changing. But is it enough to matter?
Now, this article is not to say that we are all going to die in the next five years because of rising CO2 levels. The media does tend to exaggerate news and spin it to create the most dramatic effect. However, scientific data is becoming increasingly more pointed about changes and suggesting us to make changes before it is too late.
What are the facts?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the global average temperature has risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit within the last century. 2000 to 2010 was the warmest decade on record.
Earth goes through many cycles of warming and cooling, but based on the model below, scientists believe that increased warming of the Earth is being caused by greenhouse gas emissions by humans.
Scientists project a two degree Fahrenheit increase in global average temperature could reduce yields of crops up to 15 percent, increase flooding risks, decrease stream flow in certain areas, and increase the area burned by wildfire by 200-400 percent.
Arctic ice and glaciers are rapidly melting. In the past 20 years, more ice has melted than the previous 10,000 years.
Sea levels have risen about 6.7 centimeters in the last century. However, the rate in the last decade is nearly double the last century.
These are only some of the facts out there surrounding what is happening to the Earth.
James Balog, an environmental photographer who once thought of climate change as a myth, witnessed a piece of a glacier the size of lower Manhattan slide into the ocean and melt away. You can read the story here.
So where are we now?
In December 2015, 200 nations met in Paris to address the issue of climate change. Many people had mixed feelings about this meeting. Some view this as an enormous step toward a better planet; others view it as an empty promise. The treaty requires that each nation reduce their greenhouse gases below the level that would reach two degrees of warming. This two-degree mark is the magic number that scientists have concluded is the point of no return. Once we pass this mark, it may become very difficult to turn back. This treaty goes into effect in 2020, four long years from now.
What can I do?
Individually, you can do anything to reduce greenhouse gases. This includes recycling, using less water, changing to energy efficient light bulbs, and supporting renewable energy. These actions may seem small, but if we all work together, we can make a difference.