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How is the environment changing?

daily nature photo

Photo by: Kayangan Peak; Flickr user: aku zayah.

How is the environment changing?  Many scientists believe the most important environmental issue of our time is anthropogenic (human-caused) global climate change.

Climatologist Wallace Broeker stated the “climate is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks.”  We assume our climate is stable but our actions may be stirring it to dramatic and sudden changes.

Throughout the centuries, we know the climate shifts somewhat; however, we usually suspect very little changes during our lifetime.

Our changing environment is not a new concept

Thoughts on whether humans might alter the world climate is not a new concept.  In 1859, John Tyndall described the greenhouse effect when he measured the infrared absorption of a variety of gases.

In addition, in 1895, the Nobel Prize winner for his work in chemistry, Svante Arrhenius, predicted that global warming could be caused from releases of carbon dioxide from burning coal.

Earth’s climate is very complex.  Climate scientists around the world collaborated in collecting and sharing data in order to make models that describe how our climate system works.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a collaboration of governments from 130 countries.  Their goal is to review scientific evidence on the causes and effects of human-caused climate change.

Bleached Coral ReefsEvidence that our environment is changing

The following are observed effects and expectations:

  • Rising sea levels — In the past century, sea levels have risen worldwide roughly six to eight inches.  Close to one-quarter of this increase is due to melting glaciers.
  • More storms – Storms have become more damaging and stronger.  We are experiencing extreme snowfall, rainfall, hurricane frequency, and more.  Our warming oceans and forceful atmospheric circulation are having an effect on the weather around the globe.
  • Disappearing ice – Ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula are breaking up and rapidly disappearing.  Greenland’s ice is also melting at an accelerating rate.
  • Wildlife and pests – Biologists report that animals and plants are extending their range into new territory or breeding earlier.
  • Coral reefs – Coral reefs are “bleaching.”  They are losing the colorful algae they rely on for survival.  Reefs are threatened by overfishing, pollution, and other stressors.

polar bearWhy are there disputes over climate evidence?

There are disputes pertaining to climate change evidence, issues, and concerns.

Part of the reason people dispute that our environment is changing due to human activity is the lack of information.

People also feel threatened when forced to make changes—we tend to dispute it or ignore it rather than acknowledge it.

Another reason is that most people tend to look at one or two major events, like especially cold or snowy winters in their local area, rather than how scientists observe trends in data.

Television commentators, newspapers, and talk radio sell more and get a larger audience by broadcasting colorful opinions from those who oppose and dispute climate change.

Land. Water. Fire. Ice.

These elements are basic ingredients that make up planet Earth.

Take a moment to admire the magnificent spectacle of our stunning home planet from the perspective of space.

Produced by our colleagues at NASA’s Global Climate Change website http://climate.nasa.gov/

Find out what you can do

Allocate a little time for yourself to read material, view photos and videos; visit websites that provide facts and evidence that the environment is changing.

Find out what you can do to help sustain our changing environment.

What are your thoughts?  We look forward to hearing from you.  Leave a comment–share your opinion.


10 comments… add one
  • I totally agree with these posts good observations guys! I think also we need to think about the people who are coming out with the new stuff to reduce this also. For example the government is wanting cars to go all electric. Well there is a problem with that for example again I will use the Prius. Being a mechanic I have heard from multiple sources that the Prius because of the battery making process is actually more lethal to our environment then a H2 hummer running it until it is isn’t drive able anymore. The media never talks about this though and I think that is a big problem that needs to be discussed.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject, Sam!

      I agree we have to pay close attention and dig more deeply before making purchases based on simple descriptions, like “electric” or “green.”

      Things may not be as they appear or suggested by others.

  • Maybe those who dispute global warming and our changing climate, haven’t had to live through storms like Hurricane Sandy and now Blizzard Nemo. When you can not only lose power but your homes. Maybe they live in bunkers.

    • I see your point, Sandra.

      I imagine it’s a major hardship for those who suffer through major storms, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, fires, etc.

      I wish for the best for you and your family as you endure these adversities.

      Nonetheless, many people attribute the catastrophic events nature bestow on us a natural and leave it at that.

      Nonetheless, there’s evidence that burning fossil fuels, deforestation, over-fishing, and over-consumption also render adverse changes to our environments, to name a few.

  • Vicki Karr

    Thank you for sharing.

  • CHOI, Won-Sim

    Wallace’s statement is a good point.
    It’s truly impressive and shocking.
    We already know well what we can do and must do.
    But we need to and should take action immediately.

    Thank you George!

    • I believe you’re absolutely right, CHOI.

      There are a number of actions we can take now that will help reduce our carbon footprints.

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