Mankind’s Greatest Threat
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Growing up I heard this phrase in folktales as a ‘wolf-cry’, a cry that is so ridiculous that nobody would believe it. Now that global warming is a major environmental issue, the saying doesn’t sound so out of place. Most people might say, “What is global warming?” That’s the question that was running through my mind when I first heard that we were watching a documentary on global warming in my 6th grade English class. The film is Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and it is about the causes of global warming and what its effects on our planet. Now being an environmentally acknowledged person and growing up in a conservative American Republican community, I was torn between not agreeing Gore and this extreme reality that is threatening doom on Mother Earth. The day before my English class I met my neighbor, a 60-year old woman, and I brought up the fact that I was going to watch Al Gore’s film. Her reaction was shocking: “And your parents are paying for you to watch that?” I tried to tell her it wasn’t about Gore and when I brought up global warming, she claimed that it was an international scheme to get money from our nation’s citizens and that we have nothing to worry about. I was not looking for a verbal debate or a fight with my elderly neighbor, so I just said good night and went back to my house.
That’s the day that I started thinking about global warming. I had always seen those words on the main cover of newspapers, but I had never known what it really was. In my school and society, no one had bothered to bring up the problems of global warming and because of that, I had never approached it as a serious issue before. But when I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” in my English class, I was shocked. The movie, which had helped to galvanize the world to take an action on global warming, had literally snapped me back into the reality. It had influenced me greatly, and I had gotten more curious about the topic of global warming.
So what is global warming? Global warming is an increase in the earth's temperature due to fossil fuels, industry, and agricultural processes caused by human, natural, and other gas emissions. It is a great concern but it is unfortunately quite frequently overlooked in light of other problems that seem to be immediately demanding. In the last several years, global warming has become perhaps the most complicated issue facing world leaders. Cautions from the scientific community are becoming louder, as an increasing body of science points to rising dangers from the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases, which is produced mostly by the burning of fossil fuels and forests.
For almost twenty years, the United Nations has opened annual global talks, called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty signed by 198 nations in the world to discuss global climate change and its impact on our world. During the conferences, any of the participating nations can hold up an agreement. The disagreements and controversies discussed are familiar: the question of who will pay the poor countries to adapt, the importance of protecting tropical forests, and the need to very quickly develop and redistribute clean air technology.
But these meetings have frequently ended in disillusionment, with increasing political progress, but little impact on the climate. The negotiating process has come under responsibility from some quarters, including the poorest countries who believe that their needs are being brushed aside in the battle among the dominant economic powers. Many criticisms has also come from a small but vocal band of climate-change agnostics, most of the members of the United States Congress, who doubt the actuality of human influence on the climate change and ridicule the international efforts to deal with it.
Even though the UN and many other worldwide communities have sent out several...