15 Dec 2011
Global Warming/Climate Change
Before we get into the specifics, lets define the terms global warming and climate change. Global warming or the greenhouse effect is a more specific term that refers to a gradual increase in planet-wide temperatures which is now well documented and accepted by scientists as fact. It is the warming of the lower atmosphere which is a result of the increase of a number of gases that have been classified as greenhouse gases. It is a specific type of climate change. Climate change is a broader term that refers to the long-term change in the average climate of the planet, Changes in regional climate characteristics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, and severe weather events (differencebetween.net).
The average person in America first heard about the threat of global warming through Al Gore’s “an inconvenient truth” documentary. The tragic part about that situation was that there were so many people that were going to disagree with him just because he was a member of certain political party. To this day, no matter how far or how thoroughly the issue has been researched, there are still some people out there that choose to ignore it just because of Al Gore bringing that issue to mainstream.
According to the website solar-center.stanford, “A panel convened by the U.S National Research Council, the nation's premier science policy body, in June 2006 voiced a "high level of confidence" that Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, and possibly even the last 2,000 years. It is believed that over 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere yearly by human activity. That is a tremendous amount of CO2. Studies indicate that the average global surface temperature has increased by approximately 0.5-1.0°F (0.3-0.6°C) over the last century. This is the largest increase in surface temperature in the last 1,000 years and scientists are predicting an even greater increase over this century.” (solar-center.stanford.edu). Just in the past forty years, surface temperatures have risen by half a degree. The website also states, “Recent estimates by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the National Climatic Data Center show that 2005 and 2010 tied for the planet's warmest year since reliable, widespread instrumental measurements became available in the late 19th century.” (solar-center.stanford.edu). Also, temperature changes vary over the globe. Since 1979, land temperatures have increased about twice as fast as ocean temperatures. This is due to the larger effective heat capacity of the oceans and because the ocean loses more heat by evaporation.
It is believed that the average global temperatures may increase by 1.4 - 5.8ºC ( 2.5 - 10.4º F) by the end of the 21st century (solar-center.stanford.edu). These changes may seem miniscule at first but, these changes can cause significant changes in climate. For example, The difference between global temperatures during an Ice Age and an ice-free period is only about 5ºC. The website solar-center.stanford says, “Besides resulting in more hot days, many scientists believe an increase in temperatures may lead to changes in precipitation and weather patterns. Warmer ocean water may result in more intense and frequent tropical storms and hurricanes. Sea levels are also expected to increase by 0.09 - 0.88 m. in the next century, mainly from melting glaciers and expanding seawater.” Many other events will take place if this uprising continues. Answers.com has this to say about what will happen if global warming continues, “Scientist believe it will change the earth systems including ocean circulation and hydrological carbon and nutrient cycles. In other words it will disrupt the natural ecosystems that provide us with water, food, etc., and cause environmental stresses such as declining water quality, ozone depletion, urban air pollution (take a good look at L.A. and Toronto). Already the...