Wake Up

Caitlin Wanichek

This picture shows ponds of water on top of ice in the Arctic. No this water is not supposed to be there, it is from the melted ice. https://imaggeo.egu.eu/view/4135/

How long do we have left? I mean not us as people, but us as a whole. How long does the planet, we call home, have left until it can’t fight anymore. What do we do when it gives up, and gives up only because of us? 

We often forget that our actions have consequences, and right now we are facing these very consequences. We are dealing with climate change. Climate change refers to the long-term shifts in the earth’s climate. It affects temperature and weather conditions all throughout the world. Although climate change is natural, humans have sped it up dramatically, and increased global warming. This means earth is facing many natural disasters such as forest fires, droughts, flooding, ice melting and sea level rising, etc. Because of how far we’ve let global warming get out of hand, and how we haven’t tried to change our daily habits, there is not a lot of time left to lessen the impact of global warming. 

One of the first results of global warming is Arctic ice melting. This doesn’t only affect the ecosystems and animals living in the Arctic, but it affects our sea levels too. As the ice melts our seas have begun to rise. According to the Climate Change 2021 The Physical Science Basis report “Heating of the climate system has caused global mean sea level rise through ice loss on land and thermal expansion from ocean warming. Thermal Expansion explained 50% of sea level rise during 1971-2018, while ice loss from glaciers contributed 22%, ice sheets 20% and changes in land water storage 8%.” Global mean sea level has risen 8-9 inches in the past 100 years. This is mostly due to the melting of glaciers, and these glaciers are melting due to the increased global temperatures. We are running out of time to help reduce climate change, and with the sea level rising 8 inches in the past 100 years, how much more will it rise in the next 100. We need to act now before it’s too late. 

Another devastating result of climate change is the crazy amount of forest fires there have been. These forest fires are due to droughts all throughout the world. Places like California become dry, and since the state’s reservoirs have insufficient capacity to balance the water supply, these fires are bound to happen.

 The main cause of droughts as a whole is due to global warming, as the air temperatures increase plants and trees become dry. According to the Climate Change 2021 The Physical Science Basis report “This includes increases in the frequency of concurrent heatwaves and droughts on the global scale ,fire weather in some regions of all inhabited continents.” If we don’t try to slow down global warming soon, then the damage to the earth will continue to become worse. 

As well as droughts and forest fires there is also heavy precipitation and flooding in areas. Climate change causes heavy precipitation because as the temperature rises, the oceans warm. Warmer oceans increase the amount of water that evaporates into the air. When this evaporated air moves over land or enters into a storm system, it produces more intense precipitation. According to the Climate Change 2021 The Physical Science Basis report, there is strengthened evidence that the global water cycle will continue to intensify as global temperatures rise. Precipitation and surface water flows are projected to become more variable over most land regions from year to year. A warmer climate will intensify very wet weather, which can lead to implications for flooding. 

Many people will disagree with the fact that climate change is a problem. There is the idea that climate change is a natural thing that happens to Earth every so often. The planet has gone from being super hot to being super cold in the past long before humans, and that’s what’s happening again. Long before humans the Earth has gone through Solar Cycles and dealt with Volcanic Sulfur. 

Solar Cycles is when every 11 years, the sun’s magnetic field flips, driving an 11-year cycle of solar brightening and dimming. This can increase and decrease the global temperature and humans have no control over this so global warming isn’t on us. 

Volcanic Sulfur comes from the Ilopango volcano in El Salvador, in the year 539 or 540 A.D. which exploded so violently that its eruption plume reached high into the stratosphere. Cold summers and drought devastated places around the world. Eruptions like Ilopango inject the stratosphere with reflective droplets of sulfuric acid that screen sunlight, cooling the climate. Humans also have no control over this, which shows that global warming is natural and not from humans.

Although these are all good counter arguments on how climate change is natural, and it’s just going through one of its cycles, they have all been proven not to be the severe cause of global warming. As in solar cycles, the sun has been dimming slightly for the last half-century while the Earth heats up, so global warming cannot be blamed on the sun. Volcanic Sulfur is also not the cause as well, Volcanic sulfur in the stratosphere can be disruptive, but in the grand scale of Earth’s history it’s tiny and temporary. It always comes back to humans, we have made the biggest impact on climate change.

Yes climate change is natural, but not to this extreme. Humans have dramatically sped up and increased global warming. We need to act now, before it’s too late.