Monday, August 3, 2009

Global Warming: Why It’s Happening

(Winner of High School Group, Teen Essay Contest 2009)
by Anne Fong

Global warming, what do those two words mean? If you ask, some people might say that global warming is the warming of the globe, just a temperature rise is all. Other people may say that global warming is more then just the warming of the globe. To them, global warming means more global disaster (storms, diseases, drought, fire, etc), more suffering in third world countries, and more greenhouse gases. Global warming is all that and more. It means overcoming more hurtles and obstacles.
To break down what has been happening we must first ask ourselves: how did the earth transform from a clean, green planet to a dirty, polluted planet? One of the answer lies within technology. With technology, we have cars, electronics, and home appliances. Technology has improved human life immensely. Technology has also harmed our planet immensely. All of these technology release a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 rises into the atmosphere and traps the heat coming from the sun. The heat warms the planet. This effect is called the greenhouse effect(1). It’s called “greenhouse effect” because a greenhouse is a building that keeps plants warm.
The greenhouse effect is all around us. And it's most likely going to worsen. CO2 emissions have risen so much that by 2050, scientists believe there will be billions of tons of it in the atmosphere(2). CO2 is the largest contributor to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is affecting the polar ice caps. The North Pole has been retreating since January of 2005(3) and is still retreating. With all this ice melting, the sea level rises. Wind currents that rely on the ocean to blow change patterns. A change in wind means climate change. Climate change brings more storms, more hurricanes, and more El Niño’s. Climate change also brings heat waves that can kill people. Hot temperatures also bring disease-bearing bugs and insects such as mosquitoes.[4] These are some of the effects of global warming.
How should global warming be prevented? We currently have a few methods to slow global warming. There is solar power, wind power, and hybrid cars. Other solutions include using less water, recycling more, driving less, and buying fewer appliances that release CO2. These solutions are good. In order to implement these solutions, we must begin with educating the public. People need to be aware of global warming, understand we are the cause of it, and be part of the solution.
Some suggested solutions include population control(5), consumption taxes(5) (taxes on luxuries), and conservation of natural resources. These maybe be effective, but there will always be an opposition or someone who will refuse to change. No matter what kind of solutions we create, there will always be a downside that will lead to more problems.
In third world countries, population continues to increase. With more people, there are less living space and higher consumption of resources, resulting in a greater release of CO2. Controlling the population in third world countries means involved educating of men and women not to have many children. In these countries, the purpose for females is to have children. Women in third world countries are not fortunate like the women in America. The women have no say on the number of children they have. They are being controlled by men. The problem with population control is that it will cost a lot of money and also take time to educate the men and women of these countries.(6)
Consumption taxes are taxes that are imposed on appliances that release the harmful CO2 gas. If taxes are raised higher, then people who cannot afford the luxury will not buy it. Taxes that keep climbing higher will discourage the poor and possibly the middle class from buying the appliances. The problem is that the rich who can afford it, will continue to live their usual, extravagant lifestyle.[5]
Conservation of natural resources means we must learn to consume less. For example, in order to conserve water at home, take shorter showers, don’t let the water run while brushing teeth or washing dishes, install low-flow toilets and showerheads, and use energy-efficient washing machines.7 And better yet, sun-dry the clothes instead of using a dryer. The only difficulty with this solution is that people are not ready to give up their long, hot shower custom. Not everyone can afford a low-flow toilet/showerhead, or an energy-efficient washing machine.
By identifying the cause of global warming, we have begun addressing the issue. By coming up with solutions and aware of the obstacles that we will face, with hard work, cooperation, determination, preservation, and dedication of humankind, we can slow down the global warming. Who knows, maybe we will reverse global warming.

Works Cited:
1.“Global Warming: The Signs and the Science”-DVD
2. “Six Degrees Could Change the World”-DVD
3. Nicklen, Paul. “Life at the Edge” National Geographic June 2007
Appenzeller, Tim. “The Big Thaw” National Geographic June 2007
4. Lin, Tiffany. “The Secret Drought” San Francisco Chronicle 16, April 2009
5. Ehrlich, Paul; Ehrlich, Anne. One with Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and Human Future. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2004
6. Leung, Rebecca. “Sudan: Rwanda in Slow Motion” 60 Minutes. 20 October 2004; with correspondent Scott Pelley
7. “Sustainability Made Simple: Everyday Choices You Can Make to Protect the Planet’s Future” California Academy of Sciences 2009

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