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Global Warming: Myth or Fact?

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According to the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, climate change is a “hoax.” However, when focusing on research completed over the last decade, it becomes clear that global warming is an ongoing issue, causing approximately 300,000 deaths per year and affecting over 300 million people worldwide. In fact, Earth has always had a continuously changing climate, suffering through ice ages, being struck by meteors, and other multiple events that have contributed to these changes. However, the most significant component nowadays is us: human civilization.

Ever since the start of the 20th century, Earth’s carbon dioxide levels have been drastically rising. Urbanization and the increasing presence of humans on Earth are directly associated with this issue. Many aspects add to this problem: the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and even farming. An obvious example would be the daily use of millions of cars which regularly burn fossil fuels and pollute the air with excessive amounts of CO2. Trees help absorb carbon dioxide, but with the high quantity of deforestation, they are being cut down and used for the production of varying goods. Also, although farming may seem harmless, it contributes, for instance, to 16% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. With that, even simple actions such as choosing not to recycle relate to global warming today.

The atmospheric impacts of climate change have presented themselves through a series of consequences. First and foremost, since the 19th century, the planet’s average surface temperature has risen by about 0.9 degrees Celsius. Consequently, ocean waters have increased in heat and acidification levels, affecting not only humans but other species as well (especially those whose habitats are underwater). In addition, there are multiple reports on the declining rates of arctic ice, decreasing snow coverage, and rising sea levels. At the current pace, thousands of islands are at risk of disappearing, including The Maldives, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and many more. Evidently, global warming is still relevant due to its extreme and long-lasting presence.

Despite the international popularization of multiple pieces of evidence and research, there is still a portion of individuals who do not believe in global warming, along with a substantial group of people who choose to blatantly ignore it. At Graded, however, students are known to be well-educated and highly aware of the problems impacting our global society. With that, I interviewed Maria Julia Magalhães, a biology student, to understand her point of view on the subject:

 

The Talon: Define global warming in your own words.

Magalhães: Global warming is the phenomenon of rising average temperature in the atmosphere as a consequence of high levels of greenhouse gases emission.

 

The Talon: Do you believe that humans are the main source of global warming?

Magalhães: Even though this topic might be controversial, I do believe humans are the main contributors to global warming. Not only is it scientifically proven by many different studies, but it’s also evident in our day-to-day lives. Especially living in a big city like São Paulo, it becomes very evident the amount of unnecessary energy used among the population. Due to the city’s size and the dangers of São Paulo, the majority of citizens rely on cars for transportation. It is rare to see a large group of individuals riding their bikes if they are not in a closed off park. It is simple human choices that end up negatively impacting the environment; by simply choosing to recycle, you are already helping the issue.

 

The Talon: When did you first hear about this issue?

Magalhães: I first heard about this issue in my fourth-grade science class when we were preparing for a unit about pollution. Although I haven’t looked into it too much since I have always had a particular interest towards the topic.

 

The Talon: In regards to the problem, what do you think will happen in the next 100 years? And what are some actions we can take as global citizens?

Magalhães: I believe the problem is already at such an advanced stage that it will never be completely solved. If it continues to increase at this rate, it is possible that, in the next decades, many species will be extinct, directly interfering with the natural food chain. However, there are several things we can do as individuals and as a community in order to slow down the process. I believe the first step towards achieving this goal is to spread awareness about this issue so more people can recognize it as something we should all be concerned about. Also, many deny that global warming is real, and if that reality remains, fewer people will take action to try and slow the process. Once more people accept it, each individual can make their contribution to help the cause. As we have been recently going over in our Economics class, individuals have the power to make conscious actions which can make a difference on a global scale. A few examples are switching to electric cars, taking public transportation, powering your house with renewable energy, and others.

 

Overall, multiple examples imply that global warming is, indeed, an ongoing issue in today’s society. However, it is still up to each individual to decide whether they believe in the human contribution towards the phenomenon or not. For those who do recognize that global warming is harming our planet and the people in it every day, it is necessary to start taking action – whether this is by riding a bike instead of a car more often or making a donation to one of the multiple foundations that strive to address climate change. Every action counts.

Sources: WWF, Active Sustainability, NASA, The Guardian

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Global Warming: Myth or Fact?