Is Global Warming Real? 5 Proofs That Urge Action Photo by j/f/ photos Global warming and climate change have been the focus of controversy and debate for nearly half a century – Is global warming real? What causes climate change – is it man made? Should we do something? What can we do? What is Global Warming? Atmospheric gases (primarily water vapor but also including carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, etc.) work together to retain some of the sun’s heat so that the earth stays a comfortable climate – this is known as the greenhouse effect and is necessary for human life. Climate change – long term changes in the overall climate of a particular region – can also occur naturally. The Ice Age, for example, is thought to be a natural change in the global climate. Some believe this was caused by a change in the distance between the earth and the sun, or a change in the earth’s orbital path, while others believe this climate change may have came about because of meteorites. According to temperature records over the past 150 years, the average global temperature has risen at least one degree overall and more than 2 degrees specifically in the arctic. Scientists have also discovered a correlation between these temperatures and the level of carbon dioxide (and more recently methane gas) in the atmosphere. Sky Factory by Taras Kalapun In a perfect world, the trees and plants would balance the carbon dioxide levels in the air and a natural animal population would emit just the right amount of methane and CO2 to keep the atmosphere and climate in check. In our world – we’ve removed vast amounts of vegetation to make space for structures that operate on polluting fossil fuels; we degrade land by breeding huge herds of methane-emitting cattle to feed our growing population; we manufacture products using processes that create even more gases. Our normal habits have altered the gas balance of our atmosphere, retaining more heat than ever before, and is considered to be the man made side of global warming and the current climate change. Is Global Warming Real? We’ve examined this question in a previous post, Global Warming: Fact or Fiction. Whether man made or natural, can anyone truly argue the fact that climates are changing around the world? Yes, global warming is real – Britain’s National Academy of Science states: “The world’s leading climate experts at the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believe that it is greater than 90 per cent likely that human activity is responsible for most of the observed warming in recent decades. That is a pretty strong consensus.” Global Warming Proof “Global warming will intensify drought and it will intensify floods,” states Stephen Schneider, editor of the Climatic Change journal. 2007 brought some of the worst floods in history to a number of countries around the planet – including 14 African countries, the UK, Malaysia, the US midwest, and North Korea. Droughts and water shortages have been just as prominent in recent years – plaguing areas of the Middle East, the southeastern US, Spain, and Australia. 2007 Jakarta flood named worst in 300 years. Photo by Indhas Lake Lanier, Georgia. Water level change in 11 months. Photo by Brian Hursey The longtime dream route between Europe and Asia, the Northwest Passage, was open and ‘fully navigable’ for the first time in its monitored history in 2007. This is perhaps the most extreme sign that the arctic is melting at an alarmingly fast rate. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sneGoNdTojY&feature=related[/youtube] Extreme summer temperatures are another obvious proof that global warming is real. Not only are the summers becoming unbearable in many regions around the world – they’re lasting longer and longer. In fact, here in the Blue Ridge foothills of the southeast US, the leaves are just now showing their bright autumn colors and the highs were in the 70’s last week. 10 years ago, short sleeves were out of sight before the beginning of October! 105 at 5:30 in the evening. Photo by Matt McGee These unusual changes in climate have also been linked to more frequent and more intense forest fires across the world. Wildfires in the past decade have burned longer, destroyed more land, and happened more often than ever before. The US, especially the southeast and southwest, have been affected drastically by these fires. Fires are also starting in forests in the Amazon, Siberia, Greece, Indonesia, and a number of other countries around the globe. Orange County forest fire. Photo by Miro-Foto Proof that global warming is real is all around us – from the extreme temperatures to the more and more frequent natural disasters. It is almost 100% likely that a big portion of this climate change is because of our own actions, habits, and lifestyles. What do you think?