S. Department of State). Since them the severity and frequency of bleaching events continues to increase. These bleaching events correlate with rising average sea temperatures on a global basis, rising sea levels, and more frequent tropical storms fueled by increasingly stronger heat masses (U.S. Department of State).
In addition to coral reef bleaching, the geographic ranges of many plants and animals are shifting. Plant and animal ranges are generally limited by climatic factors, with animals able to respond to climate changes faster than plants due to increased mobility (EPA, Ecosystems and Biodiversity). Recently, changes have been noticed in the ranges of several species. Those that cannot adapt to the new climate will quickly become extinct. Currently, nearly 20-30% of all plant and animal species are in danger of becoming extinct in the near future, with many of these extinctions related to climate change (EPA, Ecosystems and Biodiversity). However, climate change is positive for certain species such as mosquitoes that can benefit from thrive in the warmer climate (EPA, Ecosystems and Biodiversity). Increased mosquitoes will also increase the potential for the spread of certain diseases.
Current models indicate that changes can be expected in the hydrological cycle that could alter yearly rainfall patterns in many areas. In creased evaporation and decreased summer rainfall could plunge some areas into drought conditions, setting the stage for more intense wildfires (NOAA, Climate Enhanced Wildfires). In 1998, a rash of climate related wildfires broke out on a global basis. Massive fires burned major portions of Central America, Florida, Brazil, Russia, and Indonesia (NOAA, Climate Enhanced Wildfires). These fires threw up even more gases into the atmosphere, creating the stage for further increases in global warming.
What Can Be Done?
The signs of global climate change may seem insignificant when taken on an individual, local basis. However, when considered in aggregate, the signs and symptoms cannot be ignored. Some of the signs are subtle and are not easily observable, but some of them present glaring evidence that these changes are real and that they are increasing in frequency and intensity. Evidence suggests that these are not natural events and that increases in CO2 are the primary culprit in climatic change. Even opponents of climate change must now recognize that the evidence is continuing to stack against them and that eventually they will have to own responsibility for their actions to future generations.
More recent research focuses on what can be done to stop, or even reverse the effects of global climatic change. The first step is to push for the adoption of cleaner energy solutions. We must stop the level of emission currently being produced by energy plants. The technology for cleaner energy sources is advancing and becoming a more cost effect alternative as time passes. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, renewable energy solutions have already demonstrated a noticeable impact on reducing greenhouse emissions. This suggests that even more can be done to mitigate these problems.
Aside from the need to produce clean energy, the second major impact in the reduction of greenhouse gases is reducing emissions from vehicles. As with energy production, the key to reducing emissions from vehicles is reducing the use of fossil fuels. In response to this need, President Obama is planning to enact a national limitation on car emissions. He is proposing that vehicles get a minimum of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, an increase from current regulations of 27.5 gallons (Ruggeri). This would result in a 30% drop in vehicle emissions (Ruggeri). Reducing vehicle emission and continuing to research alternative power sources for vehicles is a key to reducing the effects of global warming.
The evidence presented in this study makes it difficult to deny that dramatic climatic changes are taking place and that humans are the cause. There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the progression of global warming including reducing the use of fossil fuels. Technological advances in the field of alternative energy are now making this a possibility. The question is whether these measures will be enough, or if we are doomed to the results of our own actions. The question remains to be answered as to whether our actions now will be too little, too late.
Recent studies indicate that even the small steps that have been taken so far have made a difference. This is at least encouraging news in that we can do something to reduce the progression of global warming. Nature has ways of handling the usual amounts of CO2 released into the atmosphere by natural causes, but this system cannot handle the overload produced by the industrial era.
The future productivity and possibly even the survival of life on Earth now depends on the ability to harness clean energy alternatives. The scientific community not only feels that it is possible to live in a world fueled by clean energy, it is essential to our very existence. They project that by 2030, a new economy will emerge based on clean energy solutions (Union of Concerned Scientists, Climate 2030).
The problem with the global warming issue is that there are many more questions than answers. The intensity and prevalent of climate change events around the world is overwhelming evidence that the effects of global warming are beginning to intensify. In the future, we can expect these changes to become even more noticeable in our daily lives, regardless of what big business wishes us to believe. No one knows where the end of global warming will lead us. We do not know how far sea levels will rise, or how many species will perish before everyone heads the wake-up call, but the day is coming when all of humanity will know the truth.
Evidence for Global Climate Change
II. Natural Sources of Climate Change
1. Sources of climate changes from space
2. The CO2 cycle
3. Naturally occurring changes within the past 1000 years
III. III. The Politics of Climate Changes
1. Denial and Big Business
2. Two combatant sides
3. Finding solutions is critical
IV. The Big Question
1. Evidence supports global warming
2. CO2 Emissions
3. Sea Level Rising
4. Increased heat Waves
5. Coral Reef Bleaching
V. More Noticeable Signs
1. Coral Reef Bleaching
2. Changes in Animal and Plant ranges
3. Droughts, Fires
a. VI. What Can Be Done?
1. Stop Denying the Problem
2. Clean Energy
3. Reduce Vehicle Emissions
4. Better Forestry Practices
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