Debating reality: global warming and climate change

By Saara Lampwalla

Is global warming real? What about climate change? Although the debate persists, the media and scientific community refer to one or both as the cause for today’s weather patterns.

The planet’s climate has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Although global warming is a more accurate term to describe the concern, it paints a picture of heated landscapes. However, global warming is just as likely to result in rainfall as it is in a dry spell.

If society adopted a different terminology for our predicament, perhaps there would be less debate about whether or not a problem exists, and more discussions about change.

Humanity’s carbon footprint and Earth’s average temperature has swiftly increased since using fossil fuel for energy, but many people don’t understand what that means.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency says that Earth’s average temperature rose by 1.4 degrees in the past century. They expect the temperature to increase by another two degrees in the next century.

From melting glaciers and increased sea levels to increased precipitation and extended heat waves, the effects of climate change are apparent.

But what are a couple of degrees? If Pomona experiences a two-degree shift in temperature, many of us wouldn’t notice. However, on a global scale, such minute temperature changes are detrimental.

Last century’s 1.4 degree shift resulted in environmental changes such as acidic sea water, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and more floods and droughts. As carbon dioxide emissions increase, the intensified effects will eventually pose an inescapable challenge to society.

NASA defines global warming as, “the increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases.” While this an accurate definition of the phenomenon, the effects are sometimes contrary to what one may think of as the result of heat. This is why current terminology is problematic.

The greenhouse effect occurs when greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide, trap solar energy in the form of heat.

The most prominent of the primary green house gases, water vapor, increases when Earth’s temperature does. Consequently, trapped energy within the atmosphere increases heat, forms more clouds and raises the likelihood of rainfall.

Since the science world’s suggestion of global warming, many people have adopted a conscious respect and consideration for the environment. Many endeavored to be environmentally friendly and propel green technology in an attempt to preserve the planet.

Still, with concrete evidence, many continue to dispute scientific claim that the phenomenon exists.

Opposing arguments include, “Global warming can’t exist since it is raining more.” As mentioned above, increased rainfall isn’t proof that global warming doesn’t exist, but actually reinforces that it does.

Perhaps when we create an accurate term for the problem, the debate will end and more people will be encouraged to reduce the size of our carbon footprint.

What do you think it should be called?

carbon dioxide

Monica Lopez / The Poly Post

carbon dioxide

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