The rise in sea levels and rapid climate change all around the world are the biggest threat of the 21st century. The Antarctica is melting in an alarming rate while the temperatures have hit records high in the Greenland. In the meantime, the human species haven’t done much to cut their addiction to fossil fuels, and stop unsustainable agricultural practices such as factory farming, deforestation and extensive use of synthetic chemicals and industrial fertilizers.
We need to cut down the emission of carbon dioxide to at least 80% in order to stabilize the Antarctica’s ice land. Unfortunately, the rapid decline of ice in the Arctic has led to large loss of habitat for the polar bears and rise in the sea level across the globe. According to a recent research published in The Cryosphere, the rapid decline in the sea ice is affecting polar bears in the Arctic during spring and fall when they are the most vulnerable. Seals are the main food source for polar bears and without ice polar bears have a hard time haunting seals for food.
According to the study co-author Kristin Laidre, the researcher at the UW's Polar Science Center "Sea ice really is their platform for life, they are capable of existing on land for part of the year, but the sea ice is where they obtain their main prey. We found that there has been a consistent and large loss of habitat for polar bears across the Arctic. These spring and fall transitions bound the period when there is good ice habitat available for bears to feed. Those periods are also tied to the breeding season when bears find mates, and when females come out of their maternity dens with very small cubs and haven't eaten for months."
Polar bears aren’t the only species affected by the rapid changes in the climate and there are many other environmental and ecological catastrophes as a result of global warming.
1. Animal agriculture is causing more greenhouse emissions than carbon dioxide:
Reports show that the methane and nitrous oxide emissions from animal agriculture are 70 times more damaging to the earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Our diet, high in meat is the main contributor behind the release of the methane gas and nitrous oxide. There are more than 65 billion animals (with 10 billions of them in US) tortured, abused and imprisoned in confined animal feeding operations (known as CAFOs). Also tons of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers are being used in growing GMO corn and soy. The use of these chemicals releases nitrous oxide that’s bad for the environment.
2. Our addiction to fossil fuel is making our planet sick:
Fossil fuels including oil and gas directly contribute to the rapid climate change. Human beings are responsible for releasing more than 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. In the last three decades, US have been consuming more than 80% fossil fuels and our elected officials have done little or nothing to change that. In fact, not that our politicians haven’t done anything to cut down our addiction to fossil fuels, they have given monopolies to Koch brothers and utility companies who are trying to block solar activities. Because of corruption of Koch brothers and their political influence, States such as Oklahoma or Arizona are penalizing home owners for installing solar panels on their roof. Keep in mind that Koch-brothers have funded front groups like American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that are punishing homeowners for installing solar panels.
Keep in mind that the American government gives billion of dollars of tax break to fossil fuel companies. Also despite the negative impacts of CO2 on the climate, the oil production and consumption have been booming under the Obama administration.
3. Many people are in serious danger as the result of rise in sea level:
According to National Geographic, "A recent study shows that we can expect the oceans to rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet (0.8 and 2 meters) by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast". Many Islands, including Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu, and the Marshall could be under water within 50 years. As a matter of fact, some countries like Holland are already under water and 26% of the Netherlands are under sea level. Netherlands had to spend billions of dollars building levees and sea wall in order to protect their land. Keep in mind that over 100 million people live close to coastal region and they could be displaced by just one yard rise in sea level.
4. In the last 500 years, more than 1,000 species have gone extinct, and about 25% of species are at the risk of extinction due to climate change:
Most species are pretty venerable to global warming. One of the species that has gone extinct due to changes in climate is Golden Toad from Central America. Keep in mind that as the temperatures rise in the sea, the heat kills more algae necessary for survival of coral reefs.
In less than 30 years, polar bears could be at the risk of extinction because of rising temperatures in Antarctica. Polar bears are at the risk of extinction since they cannot catch enough seals to eat. Due to the rise in water levels, sea lions have to move further and further away and without sea ice, polar bear cannot gain enough weight needed to survive during the winter. The cubs are also totally dependent on the female polar bear, and if the female cannot gain enough weight, she cannot produce enough milk which means the cub will starve to death. Without human intervention, polar bears will be extinct within 30 to 40 years.
Many other species, including birds are also the risk of extinction since rapid climate change brings along colder winters in places like Baltimore, Maryland Massachusetts, and Iowa. Other species such as Adelie penguin, North Atlantic cod, Pacific Northwest salmon, Australian kangaroo or pink-tailed legless lizards are the risk of extinction because of climate change. Reports show that 25% of the world species are at the risk of extinction by the year 2050 due to global warming. Keep in mind that all these species are crucial in the continuation of the ecosystem and extinction of one could have a cascade effect and impact other species. How sad it would be to think of a world without birds, salmon, penguins, kangaroos, bears, or lizards anyways?
5. Because of global warming, prolonged droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and super storms have become increasingly common and tragically destructive:
Extreme heat in India, flooding in Louisiana, and wildfires in California has been worse than ever this year in the wake of global warming. According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, July 2016 has been the warmest July in 136 years of modern record-keeping. Every year is warmer than the last year. In fact, researchers believe that by the year 2100, global warming will make the average temperatures rise by 5.8 degrees. Rising temperatures will eventually destroy plants, inhabitants, species, and other major food crops. As a result of that, more communities will be affected by famine, draught, and flooding. On top of the heat waves, add severe draught with no precipitation where the entire forest will eventually disappear and be replaced with deserts. As the temperatures in the oceans rise, the hurricanes, and storms will end up getting stronger and stronger. With the added carbon dioxide and hotter summers, more frequent wildfires occur every year and there is less oxygen to combat the toxic levels of CO2 released in the atmosphere. Every year, the wildfires become stronger and longer and everyone including people and the wildlife suffer as a result. In fact, 2016 has been a year of active wildfire for California due to years of draught and scorching heat. This year, more than 80,000 people have been evacuated in Southern California and California has been having its worst smog in years due to its record high heat wave. The wildfires have also been releasing tons of toxic smog into the air making breathing really difficult for people.
6. Stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is making global warming worse:
On a daily basis, we are pumping more than 90 million tons of pollution into the atmosphere and 20% of what we are pumping into the atmosphere will stay there for more than 10,000 years. Toxic substances are routinely sprayed in the air as a part of ongoing program known as ‘stratospheric aerosol geoengineering or chemtrails’ for combing the climate change. The jets spray the microscopic particle known as ‘aerosols’ in the air in order to provide a ‘solar shield’ against the rise in temperature. Millions of tons of highly toxic nano particulates such as barium, nano aluminum, radioactive thorium, cadmium, or chromium are suspended into the atmosphere. These heavy metals and toxins find their way into our soil, food and drinking water. Fungal proliferation is another crisis when the soil and atmosphere is filled with these toxic heavy metals. As a result of such chemical assault, the Ozone layer is damaged. Studies have linked "shrinking atmosphere" to chemtrails. Recent studies suggest that the pollution trapped in the atmosphere due to stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is making the climate change a lot worse.
7. There is more carbon dioxide in the air today than the last 800,000 years
In other words, the last time that CO2 levels were this high, human beings didn’t exist and the world sea levels were 100 ft higher than what they are today and the global temperatures were 11°F warmer than today. The CO2 emissions are so high that researchers believe that we have passed the point of no return and any cut down on CO2 emission will only slow down the inevitable destruction related to global warming. In fact, global warming nightmares are here already. For example, salmon are crucial to their coastal ecosystem since a significant portion of nitrogen in the West Coast soil is traced back to salmon that travel hundreds of miles upstream to lay their eggs.
However, according to rollingstone, “This year, officials in California are bringing salmon downstream in convoys of trucks, because river levels are too low and the temperatures too warm for them to have a reasonable chance of surviving. One species, the winter-run Chinook salmon, is at a particularly increased risk of decline in the next few years, should the warm water persist offshore”.
8. Americans make up for only 4% of the world population but produce 25% of carbon dioxide pollution:
Although China has taken the lead in emission of greenhouse gasses (producing 28% of all CO2 emissions), US comes in second producing 25% of all global CO2 pollution. The European Union and India take the third and fourth place in the world pollution. Keep in mind that over the last century, US has been the leading polluter compared to other countries and we owe it to ourselves and our planet to cut down our addition to fossil fuels and do whatever we can to reduce our carbon footprint.
9. As Americans, we can do our share to reduce our carbon footprint:
Here are the following ways you could reduce your carbon footprint:
>> Take public transit or invest on electric cars: Battery-electric cars produce far less greenhouse emission >> Cut down your animal and meat
>> Cut down your animal and meat consumption; it’s good for your health as well as the environment: Keep in mind that methane released from livestock is a lot worse for climate than CO2
>> Install solar panels on your roof and make your home energy efficient
>> Buy local organic food: Organic farming prohibits unsustainable practices of conventional farming and the use of toxic hormones, chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers.
>> Plant a tree or a garden: A single young tree absorbs 13 pounds of carbon dioxide each year researchers say. Also a 10 year old tree releases enough oxygen for two people. Unfortunately, in the last 50 years, deforestation has been a major issue globally. We have been going on for so long cutting down trees without any consideration on how this will impact the climate and our habitat. In the last 50 years, much of rainforest in Africa and Asia are lost and just in the last 40 years, up to 20% of Amazon rain forest have been cut down. Cutting and burning trees adds a lot of pollution into the atmosphere making the climate change even worse.
>> Go digital instead of printing papers and if you have to use paper, recycle them.
10. We need to cut our addiction to fossil fuels and invest on renewable sources of energy:
The renewable sources of energy like wind, nuclear fusion, and solar could effectively generate 40% of US electricity by 2030 and 80% of US electricity by 2050. The renewable sources could also be a reliable energy source without the greenhouse emissions of fossil fuels. Some countries like Denmark have been leading on offshore wind farms. In 2014, Denmark broke the world record, providing 40% of its electricity on wind alone. In the meantime, in US, Koch brother have been given monopoly to pass legislations that would hurt residents who want to reduce their carbon footprint at home by installing solar panels. We have to take the lead and ask our politicians to invest on the renewable sources of energy that would benefit our planet and other species.