By Alasia Miller ‘17
Our earth’s climate is changing due to human negligence, and it can alter our lives, ecosystems and cities devastatingly.
The core contributor to global warming is the burning of large amounts of fossil fuels. The main fossil fuels utilized by people are coal, oil and natural gas. Burning fossil fuels discharges gases that cause the earth to be unable relieve its atmosphere of these gases at the speed it could previously. Fossil fuels are often carbon-rich, so when it releases these ancient gases, it produces what is called “the greenhouse effect”. The Greenhouse effect occurs when gas emitted from the burning of fossil fuels trap unnecessary radiation inside of our atmosphere, which heats up our earth and upsets the constancy of the climate and the balance of the atmosphere.
The results are astounding. According to the 5th Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the planet has been consistently warmer in the previous three decades in comparison to any decade since 1850. Sea levels are rising. When water is warmed, it expands, and this variable in water causes the sea water levels to rise.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), there was about a 6.7 growth sea levels. The shrinking ice sheets also contribute to the water levels. As a result, low coastal areas and cities are now at risk for flooding. National Geographic suggests that by 2100, ocean levels could rise 2.5 to 6.5 feet, and entire cities along the east coast could be submerged. The acidity in bodies of water is increasing too, because the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere dissolves into bodies of water.
Students, like Brittany Thevenot ’17, have fears about the changing weather.
“I believe that the changes in weather are a sign that global warming is real and happening faster than we’d like to think. Even though I am enjoying the nice weather, I know that this a bad sign.”
Some of the damage mankind has caused is irreversible. According to the Union of Concerned Scientist’s website, the frequency and severity with which we will get heat waves will be shocking, as will be the rising sea levels and the increasing wildfire hazards.
Luckily, there are ways students can help minimize some of the damage done by reusing, reducing and recycling.
“I help stop global warming by not littering and recycling as much as possible. Furthermore, all the light bulbs in my house are compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) light bulbs which use less electricity than normal light bulbs and last longer,” stated Thevenot ‘17.
By following the three R’s which are to reuse, reduce and recycle, you can help the earth without exerting much effort. Students can reuse plastic bags when they go to the store and use refillable bottles instead of buying new bottles. To reduce, you can unplug electronics not in use from your wall, use them less frequently and turn off the lights when not in use. Additionally, conserving water by shortening showers and turning their faucets off when brushing your teeth.
By recycling things like paper, aluminum, plastic bottles, students can conserve energy and resources because it takes less energy and requires far less consumption than processing virgin material. In fact, recycling one ton of manufactured materials uses under half the energy that it takes to process one ton of virgin materials. For example, according to http://www.byui.edu, recycling manufactured aluminum cans uses 95 percent less energy than virgin aluminum cans and saves 14,000 kilowatt hours of energy and 40 barrels of oil.
Another crucial way to help is by speaking up about it. You can educate your friends on why they shouldn’t litter, on why conservation is important, and how recycling helps the earth.
Maryam Malik ‘17 said that she doesn’t litter, but for the future, she plans on making more of an effort to help the earth.
“I would like to make a change, and I will start by recycling,” she said.