Climate Change: A Real Threat
December 14, 2016
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When the weather is too hot or too cold the average person is usually slightly agitated. Plans for the day become slightly more tedious and the overall mood is affected. The weather definitely has an impact on how a person feels.
On rainy days it is hard to be productive. That trip to the post office feels more optional because no one wants to step outside.
The scene from Miss Congeniality where one of the contestants described her perfect date by giving the literal date April 25 is an iconic moment, but she was right. It is perfect; it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold.
No one likes extreme weather. People like moderate climate, but more extreme weather is predicted.
It will be colder when it’s cold and there will be a lot more rain during rainy seasons. When there are droughts they will be more extended and it will be hotter.
Climate Change is linked to extreme weather patterns and temperatures. But it is a topic often overlooked or put in the back burner of important news.
The world is changing and there is no denying. NASA’s digital visualization of the world’s temperature difference from 1884 to 2015 is proof.
Climate change is something that is going to affect everyone eventually.
Causes of climate change
Climate change refers to changes in the average temperature as well as changes in wind patterns, precipitation and length of the seasons.
The cause of climate change has been linked to the buildup of carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect.
“Other causes may be natural such as the cyclic conditions that have been going on for some millennia, but I think everything is being aggravated by the human influence,” said Elaine Diehl, a retired secondary school teacher.
Diehl has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology, a Master of Science in the Earth Science and has done post grad work at the University of Houston and University of Texas Arlington.
“With increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere it lets the radiant energy in, but carbon dioxide then prevents the heat or thermal energy from escaping back into space so the heat energy just builds up and cannot dissipate in our atmosphere.”
With carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses preventing the IR radiation from escaping into outer space the overall effect is the gradual heating of the Earth’s atmosphere.
“Warming climate which in turn changes the jet stream and warms the oceans changes the weather systems that come from the ocean.”
Don’t ignore climate change
One effect of climate change that worries scientist is the warming of the oceans.
When even fractions of degrees get warmer; they cause the arctic ice to melt.
The ice that is already floating in the ocean will not add inches or feet to the sea level, but rather the melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will, explained Diehl.
“When the water is added to the oceans it changes the thermocline. It will change the ocean currents and thus change the weather that affects the land masses.”
Carbon dioxide buildup has already began harming the oceans with acidification. The great barrier reef is under stress from the coral bleaching events. Coral reefs need time to recover, if this problem continues frequently they may disappear.
“If we change the algae where the phytoplankton in the oceans can’t survive and produce enough oxygen; we are going to be oxygen deprived,” Diehl said. “I don’t think that’s been studied too much, but that’s one of my fears.”
There are too many effects of climate change that it is hard to study them all.
Climate ultimately factors what crops can be grown and what species can inhabit an area.
“The climate has already changed in Canada, its melting the permafrost so the tress cannot have a steady root system; they’re falling over,” Diehl said.
An observation that she has made around East Texas is the amount of red oak trees.
“As the climate warms; the rain patterns change,” she said. “We already had a lot of the red oaks in the area from Tyler west [that] did not survive the drought we had several years ago because they need more rainfall.”
The effects of climate change are not just in one area. Although, some areas in specific locations are already seeing problems, this is a something that will eventually affect everyone.
What can be done about climate change?
Climate change is not a hoax. Some areas are already being affected and have begun taking measures.
South Florida has planned to improved filtration for pump stations to protect the environment and increase the use of natural barriers like mangroves to control erosion and storm surge.
The United States needs to improve much more. According to the 2016 Climate Change Performance Index the United States ranked 34 out of 61 countries.
The United States, which improved 12 places, is the second carbon dioxide emitter.
Finding an alternative to burning fossil fuels is a measure that can be adopted in order to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions.
“One thing I always felt I could do that is as a teacher I could try to at least educate my students before they got out into the world where weren’t as susceptible to seeing changes so I really felt a responsibility to tell them about it and show them what’s changing,” Diehl said.
Educating people and spreading the word about the effects, as well as encouraging media coverage about climate change can make a difference.
However, even with all of the information and data people will still deny climate change is real,
“Unfortunately if it doesn’t involve money that takes away a good percentage of them,” Diehl said. “But when we have a lack of species diversity and it starts affecting what’s on your dinner table and the air that you breathe and where you live I think it will affect it.”
Reducing carbon emissions, supporting organizations that combat climate change and pestering elected officials to implement changes are ways people can make an effort to combat climate change.