Global warming, which is a term that lives in close proximity to climate change, is the scientifically observed and recorded increase in the average temperature of Earth’s climate. On its surface, global warming is simply warmer weather across the map. However, global warming and climate change are far more complex than surface temperature. Global warming and climate change involve greenhouse gases, human activity that is harmful to the environment, rising sea levels, rising temperatures in ocean waters, and melting glaciers, among other things. This paper will use scientific evidence to argue that global warming and climate change are real phenomena. Further, this paper will argue that the occurrence of global warming and climate change is increasing at an extremely rapid rate.
First, it is important to provide a general background of what global warming and climate change are and why scientists are concerned about them today. Earth’s climate is one that fluctuates over time. For example, “in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat” (NASA, 1). The Earth adapts to change and self-regulates. However, in recent years, the Earth’s climate has changed at such a rapid rate, one that has not yet been observed in recorded history, that it has given scientists a reason to investigate to find the cause. After much research and recorded data, which will be discussed below, it has been found that a significant contributor to the Earth’s rapidly changing climate is the increased presence of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.
For hundreds and thousands of years, Earth’s atmosphere had never contained more than approximately 300 PPM (parts per million) of atmospheric carbon dioxide (NASA, 1). Today, it is observed that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are near 400 PPM, and that number is only expected to rapidly increase as it has since 1950 (NASA, 1). This is important because “when sunlight reaches Earth’s surface, it can either be reflected back into space or absorbed by Earth” (Environmental Protection Agency). When the Earth absorbs sunlight it is released back into the atmosphere in the form of heat, which is a natural and healthy process.
However, one of the main reasons why global warming and climate change are occurring is because “greenhouse gases like water vapor (H20), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) absorb energy, slowing or preventing the loss of heat to space” (Environmental Protection Agency, 1). This means that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, along with other naturally occurring greenhouse gases, is creating a sort of invisible barrier that contains heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere, thus warming the Earth. Finally, approximately 97 percent of scientist concur that global warming and climate change are occurring (Global Climate Change, 1).
Global warming and climate change can be observed in a number of ways. First, “global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century,” which has been observed to be significantly worse in just the last 20 years alone (NASA). This sudden rise in sea level is in part due to melting glaciers and polar ice caps, which is a result of rising sea and land temperatures (NASA, 1). Further, the increase in sea level is accompanied by an increase in global sea temperature, which is up .302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969 (NASA, 1). Finally, Earth’s surface temperature has also increased a significant amount. Over the course of the last century, Earth’s surface temperature has increased approximately 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit across the map. These numbers are no coincidence. Instead, these numbers, which represent significant fluctuation from their respective norms, all relate to temperature and the affects increasing temperature has on the planet.
However, with the increase in discussion of climate change and global warming, numerous deniers of the phenomena have emerged in recent years. As mentioned above, the majority of these deniers are not scientists. Surprisingly, a number of politicians have publically voiced their skepticism of climate change and global warming, which ultimately fuels the debate, even if credibility is lacking. For example, Donald Trump once claimed that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese (Benen, 1). In another example, Republican Senator Rep. Marsha Blackburn argued that she does not believe in climate change because the “Earth is in a cooling trend” (Benen, 1). However, these claims are completely unfounded and completely wrong. In fact, according to Marshall Shepherd’s article “No, Earth’s Climate Is Not In A 10-Year Cooling Trend,” which was published in 2016, 15 out of the last 16 years have been the warmest years ever recorded, as it pertains to the average global temperature (Shepherd, 1). The major problem in deniers’ arguments against climate change and global warming is that the arguments are never based in fact or completely ignore published facts. Marsha Blackburn somehow concluded that the Earth is in a cooling trend despite an endless amount of public scientific evidence that refutes this claim. Climate change and global warming do not exist or cease to exist because of personal beliefs; they exist because years of scientific research infallibly prove they do.
It is clear that global warming and climate change are real and are increasingly important issues. The above statistics show that the Earth is in fact changing and that this change perfectly coincides with global warming and climate change. Further, those researching and reporting these findings are legitimate sources, which include: NASA and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
- Benen, Steve. “House GOP Leader: ‘I Think the Earth Is in a Cooling Trend’.” MSNBC, NBCUniversal News Group, 28 Sept. 2016, www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/house-gop-leader-i-think-the-earth-cooling-trend.
- Environmental Protection Agency. “Causes of Climate Change.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 27 Dec. 2016, 19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-change-science/causes-climate-change_.html.
- Global Climate Change. “Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming.” NASA, NASA, 18 Oct. 2017, climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/.
- NASA. “Climate change evidence: How do we know?” NASA, NASA, 10 Aug. 2017, climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.
- Shepherd, Marshall. “No, Earth’s Climate Is Not In A 10-Year Cooling Trend.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 30 Sept. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2016/09/30/no-climate-is-not-in-a-10-year-cooling-trend-an-example-of-the-dunning-kruger-effect/#18b4100b2c70.