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Climate change: more than a minor nuisance

Photo by Mike Licht,

Blockbuster movies often tell a story about a force that humans created which now cannot be stopped. Much of the time it is a robot taking over the world and it is up to humans to come to the rescue. But there’s a more real threat than the science fiction in movies. Humans have already created an unstoppable force: It’s called climate change.

This is a major problem that needs to be resolved and the new presidential administration is making no effort to even slow it down. I respect that President Trump is putting money toward the country’s defense, but taking 31 percent from the EPA and other environmental agencies is just ridiculous. Also, repealing President Obama’s climate change policies is effectively ending the research of climate change in the United States.

Climate change is a fairly new phenomenon in the science world, and was not discussed until the late 1800s by a Swedish scientist named Svante Arrhenius. He was the first to propose that fossil fuel combustion lead to a much accelerated climate change and, therefore, the first to discuss modern climate change.

People can believe what they want to believe, and I have no problem with that. However, what I find odd is that people think that nothing is going on to the environment and that humans are not accelerating it. According to NASA, the average temperature has gone up 0.94 degrees Celsius since 1880. This is a drastic increase for a mere 137 years. Nine out of 10 of the hottest years have been since 2000.

The first time fossil fuels were widely used was the Industrial Revolution in Europe, which occurred during the 1700s to mid 1800s. It is not a coincidence that around that time is when climate change started to be discussed and researched. Ever since then, the use of fossil fuels has continually gone up and the earth is running out of fossil fuels. This could prove detrimental when humans need energy in the future.

Climate change does not only affect the temperature of the earth, it also affects weather patterns. Rain has increased an average of 0.08 inches a year since 1910. This may not be a bad thing; some places need more rain. However, it may be a problem when the places that are getting enough rain already could get even more, and the places that don’t get enough rain could get even less. Also, nine out of 10 most extreme single-day weather occurrences have happened since 1990.

One of the most concerning things about the rapid increase of temperature on earth is the polar ice caps. According to NASA, the polar ice caps are melting 13 percent per decade and show no sign of slowing down.

This may be because the largest temperature changes have happened in the polar regions of the world. “It’s been about 20 degrees Celsius warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia. This is unprecedented for November,” said research professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers university.

Sea levels rise for two reasons: thermal expansion and the melting of polar ice caps. Thermal expansion can be defined as an increase in linear dimensions of a solid or volume of a fluid because of rise in temperature. Basically, the increase in temperature leads to the increase in the volume of water. This in turn increases sea levels on the coast, which will force human migration away from the coastlines.

This human migration will cost multitudes of money for every country, even the ones without a coastline. If countries would just put more money toward research of climate change and the environment we live in, that would save every country money. If countries do not put money toward climate change, there could be other unintended consequences.

One of the states in the United States that could be affected most by the rising sea levels is Florida. There are many states on the coastline, but Florida is already close to sea level and is a relatively flat surface. According to the paper published in the Environment Research Letters by John Cook and others, with the way that the sea levels are rising now, South Florida could be underwater within the next 50 years. There are a lot of people in Florida and this could potentially be the largest migration in U.S history. Flooding is not the only potential problem if countries do not address this problem.

Devastating storm surges and flooding will cause unprecedented damage, which seems like something straight from a from a science fiction movie but may not be that far off from what could happen in the near future. The polar ice caps are melting at such a high rate that people should be getting worried that the once sci-fi stories may become a reality. The ocean is rising an eighth of an inch annually. This may not sound like much, but it is really adding up. It will continue to add up at an even faster rate. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), storms and floods have gone up 300 percent – 900 percent since just 50 years ago in U.S coastal cities.

Humans are not the only ones that coulbe affected by climate change. Animals are also in danger of a migration, and this could prove detrimental to the native species. Invasive species are already a problem in today’s world. According to the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, there are already 4,300 invasive species in the United States alone. This number has the potential to skyrocket when the extreme conditions of the weather hit these animals habitats, forcing them to move.

Skeptics may say that this is a natural process that cycles throughout the millenniums. There is some truth to that; there have been ice ages in the past. Obviously, we are not in an ice age anymore so that means that the earth does go through some cycles of heat and cold. The case against that is, based on the past cycles, we should be going into an ice age sometime in the next 10,000 years. However, instead of cooling down, the earth is heating up, which may delay that cycle.

There is some uncertainty in these models that project what will happen to the earth in the future regarding climate change. There will be huge cost to adapt to climate change that warrants action now and if humans do not react now, there could be dire consequences in the future. The forces of nature are more powerful than any army in the world, that is why humans need to try to undo the wrong they have done to Mother Gaia.


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About the Contributor
Reid Fedors, Weather executive producer
Reid Fedors is a senior at Middletown High School and is in his fifth semester of journalism. He is the livestream managing editor, and a part of the sports staff. He plans on attending a four year university and getting his bachelor’s degree and going on to graduate school. Reid enjoys to watch football and basketball games and to go out and eat with friends.

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Climate change: more than a minor nuisance