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Geology Essay - Climate Change Essay - 2,105 words

Geology - Climate change Global warming and climate change has become one of the most heated environmental issues recently that
has triggered a lot of controversial responses. Because sunlight is constantly falling on the earth, the law of physics says that the
planet has to radiate the same amount of energy back into space. Infrared radiation is sent out by the earth through the atmosphere,
where molecules (carbon dioxide) hold outgoing radiation for a while, warming the surface. The molecules are kind of like glass in a
greenhouse which is why this process of warming is called the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect has been operating since the
beginning of time. Without the effect, the surface of the earth would be -20 degrees Celsius, oceans would have frozen, and there
would be no life on earth.

The Washington Post has reported that the earth is warmer than it has been in 1,200 years. Recently, the summer of 1999 set
records for heat in much of the United States. The average world temperature has increased one degree Fahrenheit over the last 120
years, making the world hotter than it has been in 100,000 years. (Philander 77) From the beginning of the industrial revolution,
concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased by 30%, concentrations of methane have doubled, and nitrous oxide has risen by
15%. (Philander 79) The increases of these chemicals have enhanced the heat trapping capability of the atmosphere of the earth.
Sulfate aerosols, cool the atmosphere because they reflect light back into space, but sulfates do not live long in the atmosphere.
Scientists still do not know what exactly is heating up the earth.

Some say the earth is going through a natural cycle because the earth has gone through cold periods as well as hot periods.
Mounting evidence is saying that humans are to blame for the rise in temperatures over the past 120 years. When we burn fossil
fuel, oil, gasoline, and natural gas to run power plants, cars, and heat homes, we produce carbon dioxide. An increase in carbon
dioxide magnifies the greenhouse effect. All this energy accounts for 80% of societys carbon dioxide emissions, 25% of methane
emissions, and 20% of nitrous oxide emissions. (Ramankutty 38) In 1994, the U.S. emitted one fifth of all the greenhouse gases in
the earth. Carbon dioxide amounts are now 360 parts per million today, verses 315 per million parts in 1958, when modern
technology started, and 270 per million parts in pre-industrial times. (Ramankutty 39) Scientists cannot actually predict what the
climate will be like in the future, though. James E.

Hansen, a director of NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says that scientists know too little about the climate to make
accurate predictions. "The forcing that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future
climate change," Hansen said. (Houghton 93) Many people believe that carbon dioxide is nothing to worry about. And many
scientists are turning away from the debate about whether human-induced global warming is taking place. It is true that Earths
ocean, plants, soil, and animals naturally release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And other gases such as methane and water
vapor trap solar radiation like the way a greenhouse traps the suns warmth.

Human activities are adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than are being naturally recycled. This is what scientist believe
is causing global warming. And what are the effects of global warming? Rising temperatures are expected to raise the sea level and
change local climate conditions. By changing these conditions, the climate could alter forests, water supplies, and crop yields. This
could also threaten human health, and harm many ecosystems of animals. Deserts could expand into range lands and many National
Parks could be altered. And many of the most important impacts depend upon whether rainfall will increase or decrease.

The rate of climate change is also much more important than how much the change will be because the rate will determine whether
humans and ecosystems can adapt to survive. A decreased day and night temperature and night warming may happen when an
increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases takes place. Emissions are a major problem contributing to the greenhouse effect. These
gases are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and consist mostly of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. These gases
react in sunlight with nitrogen oxides to form photochemical smog. A lab experiment was done to simulate typical outside conditions.
Stems of fescue grass and white clover were cut and tested for VOC content and researchers found that emissions of certain VOCs
spiked immediately after cutting, while others continued at a high rate for the next two days.

Uncut grass also gives off VOCs and cutting grass makes it worse. In a city like Los Angeles, mowing accounts for 10% of the
VOCs in the atmosphere, say researchers. (Houghton 140) President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore had different stands on
the global warming issue. Al Gore was pushing for a radical stand and wanted to cut back on emissions to ten percent below the
levels of 1990 and this would require a 20% cut in the fossil fuel usage. Al Gore even called for a White House conference with
weather forecasters saying that the U.S. should fund more abortions in order to cut down on the number of people populating our
world. (Houghton 146) Gore believed that Americans would be thankful in the long run for him saving the world from ecological
disaster. Not many people seem to be in favor of a rise in taxes on energy so we can cut usage and stop the warming trend.

Steve Forbes is also speaking out on the global warming issue. Forbes believes that practically all of the global warming that has
occurred in the past one hundred years took place before green house gas emissions took off. During the 1990s, many people
thought that there was a connection between economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions because emissions have risen and fallen
with the nations economic output. (Philander 114) Ever since 1991, emissions have grown nearly 2% each year because the economy
demanded a greater use of fossil fuels. But now research shows that there is not a link between the economy and emissions. Changes
in economy such as the growth of the Internet are allowing economic growth without fuel consumption. And the Energy Information
Administration says that the consumption of coal, oil, and natural gas went down last year.
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Essay Tags: global warming, carbon dioxide, climate change, warming, climate This is an Essay sample / Research paper, you can use it for your
research of: Geology Climate Change