Wanted: Global Change

Wanted: Global Change
by Jennifer Leese

The topic of global warming is one of the hot and vigorously debated topics on Earth these days.
The term "global warming" is used to describe a steady but regular increase in the normal temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. It is said to be a change that will permanently alter the Earth's climate forever. "The climatic changes related to global warming is that the average temperature of the Earth has risen between 0.4 and 0.8 degrees C over the past 100 years." (LiveScience)
What makes it a topic of debate is that many view the effects of global warming differently. Some feel it to be more substantial and more rapidly occurring than others do. "The increased volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing, agriculture, and other human activities, are believed to be the primary sources of the global warming that has occurred over the past 50 years." (LiveScience)
There's no doubt about it, things are a-changin'.
It is said that the greenhouse effect has spurred the long predicted warming trend over the 21st century. What is the greenhouse effect? Well, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Climatic Data Center it helps to regulate the temperature of our planet. It is essential for life on Earth and is one of Earth's natural processes. They go further to say that the "[greenhouse effect] is the result of heat absorption by certain gases in the atmosphere (called greenhouse gases because they effectively 'trap' heat in the lower atmosphere) and re-radiation downward of some of that heat. Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas, followed by carbon dioxide and other trace gases. Without a natural greenhouse effect, the temperature of the Earth would be about zero degrees F (-18 degrees C) instead of its present 57 degrees F (14 degrees C)." Furthermore, according to the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES), by the end of the 21st century, we could expect to see carbon dioxide concentrations.
What Changes Can Occur?
- rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps,
- an increase in occurrence and severity of storms and other severe weather events,
- droughts
- rising temperatures,
- melting ice caps,
- savage wildfires,
- disappearing lakes,
- Shutdown of thermohaline circulation,
- freak allergies,
- the threat of long-gone diseases re-emerging,
- 25-mile long icebergs,
- major changes in coastlines and inundation of low-lying areas,
- reduction of access to clean water and food supplies, particularly in Africa and Asia and so much more.
How Can You Help?*
- Recycle. It's not as hard as you may think. Just like anything we're not used to doing, after doing it for a while, your brain automatically begins to think "green".
- Change Your Light Bulb. There are now highly efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) that last for years. They use a quarter of the energy of regular bulbs and actually produce more light.
- Your Car and Driving. Your car emits as much carbon dioxide as your entire house. You can buy a hybrid, keep your car tuned, drive less, and slow down.
- Your House. Older heating and cooling systems are a third less efficient than the new systems, so replace your old one for a new energy efficient one. You can also clean vents, close unused vents, change filters in the vents, tune up your heating system, buy a programmable thermostat so you can change the temperature throughout the day - if you're not home, you don't need it the same temperature as for when you are. Make sure windows and doors are sealed, and if you added two degrees to the AC thermostat in summer, and two degrees in winter, the cumulative impact would be significant.
- The Refrigerator. Did you know that the refrigerator is the single biggest consumer of electricity in the average household, claiming 10-15 percent of the electricity you use each month? Ways to help: replace old refrigerators, don't set the thermostat too high, if your refrigerator is near a heating vent, or always in the sun, then change the location, cover up the heat vent near it or drape the window, turn on your "energy saver" switch near the thermostat, clean the condenser coil, and make sure the doors seal properly, and keep the cool in.
- Other Appliance Monsters. Either turn the hot water heater down a couple of degrees, or turn on the "energy conservation" setting. Buy insulation for your hot water heater and insulate the pipes as well. Install a timer on your water heater to turn off at night and just before you wake up in the morning. When possible, wash a few dishes by hand. Don't pre-rinse dishes. Or wait until you have a full load to run the dishwasher. Wash clothes in warm water, not hot water, this will cut energy use by 50 percent. Don't over-dry your clothes - that saves 15 percent.
- Plant Trees. The wind breaks to save energy, and the shade we get lowers your cooling costs.
- Think Organic. Eat locally grown food. If the food doesn't have to travel far, there's less carbon dioxide from the trucks that ship it. Eat fruits and vegetables in season. Again, that saves the enormous transportation costs. Plant your own vegetable garden.
Recent Headlines Include:
Global warming causing plant migration in Europe: study (BBC News)
Study: Global warming chases plants uphill (Associated Press)
Destruction Of Greenhouse Gases Over Tropical Atlantic May Ease Global Warming (Science Daily)
Plant species 'climbing higher' to escape global warming (In the News - UK)
Global warming, terrorism tied (Paris Post Intelligencer)
Global warming moves Costa Rica coffee land higher (Reuters UK)
Do these headlines concern you? Is global warming "the greatest scam in history," as it recently called by John Coleman, a prominent meteorologist and the founder of the Weather Channel, or is it something to be concerned about? Are you willing to sit back and do nothing?
As passing occupants of this planet, it's our job to help take care of it. In order to do so, we must get involved, we must get educated on the subject, and we must care. Take the time today and learn more.
For more information on global warming, including the long-term effects of, the causes of, what you can do, the latest global warming news, and more, visit any of the websites listed in the "Source List" below. *Tips from LiveScience.com.

Source List: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Climatic Data Center, LiveScience.com, Union of Concerned Scientists, GlobalWarming.com, Global Warming Life, and ClimateHotMap.com.