It seems everyone has heard of global warming but no one agrees on it! Some people and politicians discount the idea as hysteria propagated by environmentalists while others agree that we have climate change but it is really nothing to worry about. Then you have people whom are very concerned but are at a loss as what to do. So I explored several sources from the Smithsonian institute to Ontario Nature to get a broad range of facts so that you can make up your own mind.
Let’s go exploring the topic of climate change.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Earth’s climate is variable and changing. In the distant past we have seen evidence of this. The Earth has experienced periods of warmer and colder climate. Just a mere 11,000 years ago (a blink in the Earth’s climate history) was the end of the last ice age. So if the Earth experiences eras of warmer climate, isn’t this a natural process – a natural climate change towards a warmer climate?
I’ll give you a guarded “yes” answer. I think what we need to do is to investigate this trend further. Since 1980, we have had 19 out of the 20th hottest years. There is 30% more CO2 in the atmosphere than there was 150 years ago. Why is CO2 a particularly important gas to be monitored in our atmosphere? As it turns out, certain gases in the atmosphere act like the glass in a greenhouse. The glass allows the sunlight to enter the Earth’s atmosphere but most of the heat from the sunlight is trapped near the ground.
So what in the Earth’s past has caused this rise in CO2 levels and, again, is this a natural trend? In 2007, scientists concluded that humans are responsible for much (not all) of the greenhouse global warming. We cut down huge amounts of trees, drive millions of cars and buses and burn vast amounts of coat and oil. Other contributors to greenhouse gases are methane released from millions and millions of farm animals and nitrous oxide released from chemicals used in soil fertilizers and cars.
Still, if climate change is a natural process for the Earth why panic about this obvious documented climate change? Here’s where you need to sit up and pay attention!! Global warming is the particularly RAPID RISE in the average temperature. Sure, the Earth in the distant past has had much warmer and colder climates but the difference lies in how rapidly this climatic change happened. Absolutely every ecosystem of the world and all the living things within these systems evolved GRADUALLY over the course of thousands of years to changes in the climate. These changes were both genetic and behaviour to adapt all the living communities to the changing climate and world. The bottom line is that all these changes take time – lots of time.
Global warming is and will affect everything from polar bears needing sea ice to hunt for walrus and seals to butterflies coming further north or to higher elevations. Even the oceans will be affected. Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to temperature changes – reefs die and the ecosystems and fishes that depend on it. We will even notice the impact of global warming in the effect of variable food supplies which will ultimately upset the world economy.
Bringing the argument closer to home southern Ontario’s climate will change. Overall, average temperatures will rise and days of extreme heat will become more frequent. Seasonal patterns of precipitation will be erratic. We will experience more winter precipitation with a decline in summer precipitation creating more arid regions. Summer temperatures by the year 2030 will be, on the average, 2C higher. In the end this could translate to increased frequencies and intensities of forest fires in the northwest, to beach and dune erosion along the Great Lakes shoreline and to flooding around the Thousand Islands.
At this point I ask you, even if you still don’t believe global warming is an issue would it do any harm to adopt more earth friendly ways and lifestyle? Doesn’t it make sense to tread as softly as possible on the Earth – our nurturing source of life?
Inaction and non participation is not an option. We can all individually, as families and as communities do something. Remember – 1 person’s actions may seem insignificant but additively it can become a reckoning force.
So here is a list of some actions to consider:
– improve fuel economy from buildings to vehicles
– encourage wind and solar power
– encourage exploration of alternative energies
– protect existing forests and plant more trees and forests
– reusable instead of disposable containers and plastic bags. Try filtering your own water and filling reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water.
– change the way we commute. Be more efficient and make less trips to town. Maybe adopt a healthier mode of transportation such as walking or biking. Try to use public transportation, if possible. Or we can always share rides and pick up things for our neighbours while we are in town.
– use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners or set the thermostats a little higher. Lower the hot water tank temperatures.
– use energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs.
– turn off electrical appliances when not in use.
Hopefully, we will all adopt softer lifestyles and be a little kinder to our planet – our “Mother Earth”.