As a nation, we have procrastinated acknowledging and dealing with the problems in our environment. We have taken advantage of our Earth and without question it is becoming time to ease our dependency on the things that destroy our surroundings. Global warming has become an important issue to today’s society. It is imperative we, as inhabitants of the world, do everything we can to help alleviate the pressure global warming causes on our home.
Global warming is caused by an excess of green house gasses. The Earth absorbs energy from the sun and some of that energy is radiated back into space. Some of that energy bounces off of dust, clouds and other pollutants in the atmosphere, like “greenhouse gasses,” and gets sent back to Earth. This does not cause global warming. To a certain extent, this is what keeps our planet nice and warm. Without the natural greenhouse effect, temperatures would get hot throughout the day but would plummet during the night.
The problem that creates global warming is that through the centuries, especially after the Industrial Revolution, people have significantly added to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They have done this by burning fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, oil and gasoline. The more gases in the atmosphere, the more heat is coming back to the planet. This means that temperatures for the planet overall are rising, and that can have catastrophic affects.
We are already seeing the affects of global warming. Because global warming raises temperatures, ocean water temperature is affected. Hurricanes can only be sustained in 80 degree or warmer weather, which explains the increase in the amount and increase in the severity of recent hurricanes. The number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years.
Also, ice from glaciers at the North and South Pole have been melting. As the poles continue to melt, there is the possibility that the added water into the ocean will change the currents. That could change wind and weather patterns as we know them.
The government is overlooking the issue of global warming. In February of 2002, the United States government announced a strategy to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the American economy by 18 percent over a 10-year period. However, that still puts the U.S. far behind the rest of the world. The United States is one of very few countries in the world to have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. An agreement, made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol commits countries to keeping their greenhouse gas emissions under a certain level. The Kyoto Protocol covers more than 160 countries globally. It is important for the United States to ratify this agreement.
While Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” begins to bring the issue of global warming to the public eye, merely watching the documentary is not enough. There are small things that every individual can do to help the problem of global warming. Recycling is one example of something simple that everyone can do. Also, people can replace their regular light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs. This type of light bulb uses about 1/3 of the energy of regular light bulbs, which means less carbon dioxide gas being let out into the environment. These are things that people can do on a personal level to help the environment. Individuals also need to put pressure on the United States government to seriously tackle the issues of the environment and global warming. If there is not a serious step taken, such as passing and following the Kyoto Protocol, the United States will continue hurting the environment at a faster rate than the rest of the world is helping.
Although those of us who are alive today will not see the ultimate affect of global warming, 100 years from now the problems that scientists are talking about will become a reality. It is unfair of us to let the problem grow when right now we are completely aware of the situation and some ways to ease the pressure we are causing on the environment. This is not a problem that should be left for future generations. Global warming should be dealt with now. If we do begin to modify our behaviors then over time we help the planet to become stable again. If we live the way we have been, emitting too much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and letting our planet become slowly destroyed, soon there will be nothing left for anyone to enjoy.