Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)
HIRE A WRITER!
Paper Types
Disciplines
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)

Climate Change: Catastrophe in the Making, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1706

Essay

Several recent reports have been published warning that the West Antarctica ice sheet is beginning to collapse, and that its continued disintegration is inevitable. According to the reports, “human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet,” and there is no way to reverse this process (Gillis and Chang). Because the science of predicting, and even understanding, the myriad forces involved in such monumental climatic changes is inherently imperfect, scientists are hesitant to predict how long this collapse will take (Kolbert). What does appear certain, however, is that as this ice breaks away from the Antarctic ice shelf and melts into the ocean, sea levels will rise by as much as ten feet (MacDonald). Whether these rising levels will appear in the next several decades or the next several centuries is unclear; what is clear is that future generations will suffer the consequences or reap the benefits of decisions humanity makes today.  As the governments of the world have begun to wake up to the reality of climate change, initiatives such as the Kyoto protocols and the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCCC) have helped raise awareness of the issue, but none of these efforts have yet to go far enough to mitigate the damage that human activity is causing and will continue to cause to the climate and the environment. The collapse of the Antarctic glaciers is a sign that human beings must act now to avoid catastrophic outcomes for life on planet Earth.

The Link between Global Warming and Climate Change

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “deforestation and burning fossil fuels are chief culprits” in raising the Earth’s temperature (edf.org). The primary concern arises from carbon dioxide (CO2) that is released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels such as petroleum or coal are burned to generate power.  CO2–along with other gasses- acts as a “greenhouse gas;” as it accumulates in the Earth’s atmosphere, it traps heat from the sun’s rays that would otherwise be deflected back into space. While natural processes have always served to raise and lower the Earth’s temperature over time, the contributions of human activity since the Industrial Age are causing the levels of greenhouse gasses to rise dangerously and rapidly. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 800,000 years has fluctuated from 180 parts per million (ppm) to 300 ppm, with such fluctuations occurring over vast spans of time (edf.org). Current levels of CO2 are at approximately 400 ppm (edf.org) and will likely continue to rise in the foreseeable future.

Because the Earth’s climate is a complex, interwoven construct comprised of innumerable different forces, the heat trapped by greenhouse gasses does not equate to a linear, consistent rise in temperatures across the planet (Gillis and Chang). Much of the heat has been absorbed by ocean waters, and rising sea temperatures are contributing to the destruction of the Antarctic shelf, as well as wreaking havoc for ocean environments. Slight increases in temperatures on land can lead to significant changes in local and regional environments, unleashing all manner of unusual –and often unexpected- results.  Vast stretches of forest in the Western United States have been decimated by insect populations that would typically have been kept in check by cold winter temperatures (edsf.org).  Heat rising from oceans and trapped in the atmosphere is reshaping weather patterns across the globe, and leading to more extreme weather conditions, from floods and storms to droughts and forest fires (nrdc.org). These changes in the Earth’s climate and environment are only the beginning; scientists predict the problems will get much worse in years to come.

What Can We Do about Climate Change?

Scientists have been warning the public about the problems of global warming and climate change for years, but it is only in the last decade that serious international efforts have been made to determine how countries can work individually and together to mitigate and hopefully even reverse the worst effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate.  One of the first major international efforts on climate change was the Kyoto Protocol, which is linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc.int). The underlying premise of the Kyoto Protocol is that industrialized and developed nations, as the largest producers of greenhouse emissions, must take the lead in mitigating the associated problems (unfccc.org).  When it came time to ratify the accord, the U.S., under then-President George W. Bush, refused to sign on, declaring that Kyoto did not place enough responsibility on “emerging economies” in the developing world (Prudy).

The Kyoto Protocol is not the only international effort to deal with the issue of climate change.  The IPCC has brought together researchers, scientists, government officials, and representatives from a variety of public and private organizations to study the issue of climate change and develop plans and recommendations for mitigating the effects of climate change and adapting to the environmental realities of a changing climate. The IPCC has released a series of assessment reports that offer a sweeping, comprehensive view of the problems and potential solutions related to climate change. The IPCC examines climate change in the context of scientific research as well as in terms of the socioeconomic challenges it poses for countries around the world. Organizations such as the National Center for Science Education and The Climate Reality Project work to raise awareness and educate the public about the seriousness of climate change and the need to find ways to mitigate and adapt to the changing environment. Despite these and other efforts, however, little has been done to responsibly deal with the issue of climate change.

In the 2012 article “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” author Bill McKibben addresses some of the statistical data related to our reserves and consumption of fossil fuels. Simply put, asserts McKibben, we would have to leave 80% of our fossil fuels in the ground, unused, in order to even begin to mitigate the effects of global warming and climate change. With governments and other public and private organizations failing to meet the challenges of climate change, McKibben points to several initiatives that may help alleviate at least some of the problems. Among these are campaigns pressuring organizations –such as universities- to divest from stocks and investments in fossil fuel companies. The author hopes that “moral outrage” among members of the public might finally succeed in bringing about change where other efforts have failed (McKibben).

As the effects of climate change become more visible and more severe it will become increasingly difficult for governments to ignore the problem and for the companies which profit from fossil fuels to continue their destructive behaviors. McKibben’s point about “moral outrage” is well taken; any truly effective effort to combat climate change will likely result from a broad, global grassroots movement driven by those who are most directly affected by it. The most effective means of combating climate change is to continue to raise awareness and educate the public, and to continue to offer specific actions (such as the divestment initiative) that people can undertake. Developing a sense of unity of purpose will be the best way to slow or halt the effects of global warming.

Is the Battle against Climate Change a Lost Cause?

When reading reports about the irreversible destruction of the Antarctic ice sheet or the amount of potential CO2 emissions stored in fossil fuel reserves, it is difficult not to conclude that the battle against global warming has already been lost. While there may be some effects of global warming that cannot be reversed, it seems clear that things can get much, much worse if we do not do something about the problem now. In the age of globalization, the power of public and political pressure has been a proven force for change; from the end of Apartheid in South Africa to the fall of the Berlin Wall, history shows that sweeping changes on massive scales are indeed possible. Public and private organizations are increasingly adopting “green” technologies and processes, and there is a growing sense that the global community has a responsibility to do something about climate change before it is too late.

For most of us, the worst effects of climate change may not arrive in our lifetimes. It is all too easy for individuals to ignore the literal and figurative rising tides and leave the problem for future generations to solve. The reality is, however, that if we do not do something about this situation now, there will be no way to solve the problem later. This is a looming crisis that is of a greater scale than anything humanity has ever faced, and we have a responsibility to consider the safety and security of our children and our children’s children. It may seem too daunting a problem, but there are practical ways that each of us can get involved. On an individual level, we can all work to curb our use of energy derived from fossil fuels through such simple steps as driving less and using less electricity. We can donate our time and money to organizations such as The Climate Reality Project; we can pressure our local and national political representatives; we can work to educate ourselves and our loved ones about the issues.  What we cannot do is ignore the problem any longer.

For more information, go to http://www.climatereality.org and find out about what you can do in your neighborhood to combat global warming and climate change.

Works cited

edf.org,. ‘Climate Change: Catastrophe In The Making’. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

Gillis, Justin, and Kenneth Chang. ‘Scientists Warn Of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt’. Nytimes.com. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

‘Home | Climate Reality’. N. p., 2014. Web. 15 Jun. 2014.

Ipcc.ch,. ‘IPCC Fifth Assessment Report’. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

Kolbert, Elizabeth. ‘The West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melt: Defending The Drama’. The New Yorker. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

McDonald, Frank. ‘Melting Glaciers A ‘Climate Tipping Point’, Bonn Meeting Told’. Irish Times. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

McKibben, Bill. ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’. Rolling Stone. N. p., 2012. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

Nrdc.org,. ‘What Is Global Warming | NRDC’. N. p., 2005. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

Purdy, Alison. ‘The Kyoto Protocol’. the Guardian. N. p., 2005. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

Unfccc.int,. ‘Kyoto Protocol’. N. p., 2014. Web. 14 Jun. 2014.

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Essay Samples & Examples

How Did Technology Affect the Civil War? Essay Example

The America Civil War became the first modern war due to the application of technology. Technological advancement had a significant impact on the American Civil [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 2058

Essay

Primitivism, Essay Example

Primitivism is a style of artwork mainly practiced by self-trained artists who cultivate their talents in an imaginary and renewed method. The ideas and elements [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 631

Essay

Europe and the Making of Modernity From 1815-1914, Essay Example

Hi. I just want to share with you a reading experience I have had when I read the book by Robin Winks entitled Europe and [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 268

Essay

My Passionate, Essay Example

My passion relates to finding the truth and understanding the world and this has played a vital role in my storytelling hobby. My father was [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 725

Essay

Abuse by the NHS: Patient Consent and Confidentiality, Essay Example

Introduction Incidences of identity theft have been on the rise in recent years. Most recently, medical identity theft crimes have risen also-although this is something [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1014

Essay

Guide to Successfully Completing Your Dissertation, Essay Example

Writing a dissertation can be an overwhelming experience that can be scary, stressful, and can be the ticked to receiving doctoral status. The in completing [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 638

Essay

How Did Technology Affect the Civil War? Essay Example

The America Civil War became the first modern war due to the application of technology. Technological advancement had a significant impact on the American Civil [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 2058

Essay

Primitivism, Essay Example

Primitivism is a style of artwork mainly practiced by self-trained artists who cultivate their talents in an imaginary and renewed method. The ideas and elements [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 631

Essay

Europe and the Making of Modernity From 1815-1914, Essay Example

Hi. I just want to share with you a reading experience I have had when I read the book by Robin Winks entitled Europe and [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 268

Essay

My Passionate, Essay Example

My passion relates to finding the truth and understanding the world and this has played a vital role in my storytelling hobby. My father was [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 725

Essay

Abuse by the NHS: Patient Consent and Confidentiality, Essay Example

Introduction Incidences of identity theft have been on the rise in recent years. Most recently, medical identity theft crimes have risen also-although this is something [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 1014

Essay

Guide to Successfully Completing Your Dissertation, Essay Example

Writing a dissertation can be an overwhelming experience that can be scary, stressful, and can be the ticked to receiving doctoral status. The in completing [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 638

Essay

Get a Free E-Book ($50 in value)

Get a Free E-Book

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!