While many people do not believe that climate change is responsible for the increased number of severe natural disasters that have been experienced over the past several years, climate scientists know better. The sharp rise in global air and ocean temperatures have already made an outsized impact on the natural world. Dan Stammen, an entrepreneur that is conscious about the environment, explains how climate change caused by human activity has caused outbreaks of severe weather and other natural disasters.
Global Temperatures are Rising
Global temperatures are on the rise, with 2018 being the hottest year on record. Since 1880, the Earth has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Two-thirds of this warming has happened since 1975. While this does not seem like a large change, a few degrees here and there can make a huge impact on the natural world. When the world entered the Little Ice Age between 1300 and 1870, only a one to two-degree drop in global temperatures was responsible.
Climate change skeptics do not believe that human activity has caused the global temperature to rise. They are in favor of theories that posit that the global temperature is rising due to a natural cycle and that it will eventually decrease on its own. However, climate scientists are sure that human activity has caused a rise in temperature.
Mechanics of Climate Change
Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane trap heat, causing sunlight to warm the planet more dramatically. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been steadily increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil is largely responsible for the rise in carbon dioxide.
When humans do not control their carbon dioxide output, the temperature rises. Consequences of this temperature rise include a rise in global ocean temperatures. This changes the migratory patterns of sea life and causes food sources to become unavailable. In the Arctic, this problem has shown a staggering increase in the last 50 years. As sea ice melts, the environment undergoes massive changes. Many large predators like polar bears are unable to find food under these circumstances.
Changing Weather Patterns
The rising temperature also affects weather patterns. El Niño and La Niña, Pacific weather patterns caused by ocean temperature rises, create vastly changed climate conditions. Dan Stammen notes that these changes can cause unusually wet or dry conditions, leading to mudslides in the case of wet weather and wildfires in the case of dry conditions.
Many people do not understand that there can be extremely cold temperatures in places while the Earth is warming overall. Weather and climate are not the same phenomena. For example, the “polar vortex” created over the past several winters was caused by the descent of polar temperatures into lower latitudes.
There is a scientific link between warmer temperatures in the Arctic and more severe winters in North America. Warm air in the Arctic allows the jet stream to make severe swings that bring cold temperatures further south.
The danger of wildfire is another climate-driven natural disaster. When the climate shifts from rainy to dry, forest areas do not receive enough water. This dries out the timber and causes the forest to become incredibly vulnerable to burning. Thousands of acres of forest, including populated areas, can disappear in a matter of hours.
Severe weather caused by climate change has a dangerous impact on the Earth. As temperatures rise, warm oceans create more energetic disturbances. There have been many strong hurricanes over the past few years, causing a great deal of property damage and loss of life.
What Can We Do?
While we cannot reduce the temperature of the Earth, we can put a stop to the rise by reducing our output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This will require a great deal of work by individuals and businesses alike, but renewable energy sources are available and are cost-effective. The powerful oil and gas lobbies are against renewable energy, but people need to look past politics to see what is truly happening to the Earth.
Dan Stammen encourages all people who are concerned with the environment to look into ways that they can reduce their carbon footprint. Using fewer products of oil and gas is a good way to start. With the rise in electric cars and solar energy, it is easier for the average consumer to make a difference.