Several issues concerning the environment are brought to the public’s attention
every year, but none has more of a direct effect on earth and its environment than global
warming. Coincidentally it appears to be the least of the populations concern. Global
warming is the theory that our planet is getting hotter due to an increase in the
greenhouse effect brought about by the increase of carbon dioxide and other gases in the
atmosphere. Global warming is caused by the greenhouse gases and has several
consequences that could occur if this problem is left ignored by most of the world and
our nations leaders. Such consequences include our planet getting hotter, melting of
large glaciers, wildlife suffering or even the inverse effect which could trigger an ice age.
With that, we should take global warming step by step and educate people about it
because most people do not even know what it is or that there is a problem.
Our earth is protected by a large ozone (o3) layer in the atmosphere which
deflects life threatening UV rays that are given off by the sun. Without this layer we
wouldn’t be able to exist as an ecosystem and all life would go extinct. “Greenhouse
gases, which have built up to unnaturally high levels in the atmosphere, trap heat. They
include carbon dioxide, which is emitted when fossil fuels are burned, and other gases
produced by human activity”(Watson 2). These gases besides trapping heat, created a
hole in our ozone layer which will continue to increase in size if the level of gases remain
too high. A hole in the ozone layer means that there is no ozone to protect us within that
given size of the hole. Whether the hole is big or small it does have an effect on earth
which we call global warming, which in turn can have several effects on the planet.
One possible effect that can be attributed to global warming is the melting of
large glaciers. This is serious because “The Earth’s ice cover acts as a protective mirror,
reflecting a large share of the sun’s heat back into space and keeping the planet
cool”(Mastny 1). The most dramatic reports of this come from the polar regions where
the Arctic sea ice has dropped 40% in thickness from 3.1m to 1.8m in less than 30
years(1). The massive Antarctic ice cover which contains 91% of Earth’s ice is also
melting, with glaciers as large as Delaware breaking off of it, it has already lost ice that is
larger than Rhode Island since 1998 alone. With the ice melted, it would spark regional
flooding and raise sea levels. Michael D. Lemonick writes “There is a chance that global
warming could plunge us into, of all things, an ice age”(Lemonick 1).
Currently the Gulf stream brings warm surface water in and heats Europe
causing the water to slowly evaporate and becomes saltier. The result is denser water
which sinks and is sent through a cycle, where then the cycle is just repeated. But with
global warming, melting ice pumps freshwater into the northern Atlantic. The result
would be less saltier water, hence disrupting the cycle making it unable to continue;
therefore, “shutting off” the Gulf stream. Europe would then become very cold and the
ice or snowfall would continue to reflect the sun’s heat back into space causing the earth
The effects have also been clearly seen on animals, birds, glaciers, and other parts
of the world. Some changes noted in the USA were that “Tree swallowers are building
nests earlier in the year. A western species of butterfly is moving farther up the coast.
Flowers in Wisconsin are budding earlier in the spring”(Watson 1). The unbelievable
part is that we are not doing much about any of this.
Dick Thompson writes “French researchers reported that heat-trapping
greenhouse gases are at their highest level in 420,000 years”(Thompson 1). American
Geophysical Union study director John Immerwahr says “The more we talk about
warming, the more the publics concern goes down”(1).However, there has been more
than 13 million dollars spent on ads to send a message portraying a “too expensive”
problem to fix, or that there was no problem at all. This is obviously false, if there was
not a problem than the topic would never be an issue. Environmentalists are saying that
the only way to fix this problem is by reducing the level of greenhouse gases produced
without spending too much money. This is very possible with solutions like cleaner or
electric cars and better wind and solar power technologies. Natural Resources Defense
Council program director Greg Wetstone points out “Of course, it’s also possible that
only when people feel less hopeless will they press their leaders to make the solutions
available”(2). This shows that if we are going to fight this problem then we have to do it
as a nation, with everyone involved including the president, and with the less support
from people there will be less of a chance to correct this problem.
Due to the increase in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and other gases
produced by human activity, global warming is becoming a bigger issue to deal with.
The effec6ts have been clearly seen all over the world and even in our own backyard.
With glaciers slowly melting, an increase in temperature, and plants and animals showing
different behavior patterns it is obvious that the problem is getting worse. There are
several individuals who fight and dedicate most of their lives to preventing global
warming and the effects that come with it. However, with the ;large number of people
fighting it there is an equal number of those who are not and this is why the problem
continues. So, until we can all come together and put effort into stopping global
warming, we will continue to read about the disasters that occur and their effects on
Castro, Peter, and Michael E. Huber.Marine Biology.3rd ed. New York:
Hale, Ellen. “U.S. blasted in talks…”. USA Today. 22 November 2000
Lemonick, Michael D. “…And Then How Cold?” TIME. 8 November 1999:
Mastny, Lisa. “Melting of Earth’s Ice Cover Reaches New High” Worldwatch
International. March 2000
Thompson, Dick. “What Global Warming?” TIME. 21 June 1999:
Watson, Traci. “U.N. Study: Global warming is evident now.”USA Today.
19 February 2001: