By: Lindsay Finch
You may have noticed that this year we have had a very unusual winter. Unlike typical winters in Northwestern Pennsylvania, there hasn’t yet been a deep freeze or major amount of snow that has gripped the county. Temperatures fall, the snow comes, and then it warms up, which is all extremely strange for our region. However, it is not just our area that is experiencing these weird fluctuations of the weather. All over the globe, weather specialists and even the average person have noticed that warmer weather is becoming more prominent than colder.
For a few years now, the news has been talking about climate change and advised that, if we don’t change our ways, the earth is going to pay for our mistreatment. Since 1901, there has been large indicators that the weather is shifting. It isn’t just warming temperature, it is precipitation, storms, floods and drought that threaten the earth. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Extreme weather events such as heat waves and large storms are likely to become more frequent or more intense with human induced climate change.” Recently in the news, Australia has been devastated with wild fires blazing over more than 16 million acres. The blaze started in October when lightning struck the drought-ridden ground on Gospers Mountain in New South Wales. On the other hand, flooding has become a problem in many countries, but one in particular has left an entire city in shambles. Venice, Italy is known for the canals that run through the city as aqua roads, which empty into a lagoon that is only separated from the Adriatic Sea by a thin strip of land. Venice is used to the water level fluctuating due to tides and the time of the year, but this recent rise in water is due to something else. Anna Momigliano from the New York Times writes in her article about Venice, “A combination of rising tides and winds of more than 75 miles per hour from two different directions caused massive waves to crash into Venice.”
Climate change is always being thrown around in the media and on the news for being the cause of these strange weather phenomena. But what is climate change? Well, it is basically exactly what it sounds like; the earth’s climate is warming up to all-time highs. Some people disagree with climate change, but the signs of it being present, such as global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, decreased snow cover, sea level rise, declining arctic sea ice, extreme weather events and ocean acidification, are very prominent.
The change in climate is due to a few reasons, but one major cause is the greenhouse effect. This is when gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are not able to escape through the atmosphere and in turn warm the earth. To get some more input we asked Eisenhower science teacher, Mr. Musi, about his knowledge on the subject and he responded, “Whether or not the climate is changing is not a matter of belief; it is fact. The data that has been collected on the weather and climate for more than 100 years shows that the climate is changing.” He also explained some of the gases that are culprits of the warm up, “Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other chemicals are known to trap heat in the atmosphere. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been monitored since the 1950s and has been increasing.” To top it off, he told us about different studies that have found “carbon dioxide and other gasses trapped in glacial ice.”
We also asked environmental science and chemistry teacher, Mrs. Dietsch if she could also educate us on the gas admission into our atmosphere. She informed us that, “Many gases are affecting our air quality. Those that are directly impacting climate change are the greenhouse gases which include: carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and methane. Carbon dioxide and water are produced when fossil fuels are burned and from volcanic eruptions (these are the two primary sources). Methane is produced during decomposition of waste. Nitrous oxide is produced through agricultural practices (fertilizers), and fossil fuel combustion.” Most of these gases are inevitable to stop from being admitted into the air, because businesses are always going to burn fossil fuels to run their productions and we are always going to drive, fly or use some other form of gas burning transportation to get to far destinations.
You are probably wondering how we can help stop the admission of harmful gasses into the air and the truth is that it is very hard for us regular people to actually stop the admission. The major contributor is factories that let smoke bellow from stacks into the air, but gas admission also happens when you start your car and drive to school or work. There are organizations such as U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that provide information of different steps you can take to raise more awareness for climate change. It may seem like a huge task, but we only have one Earth and it is on a long decline with a very awful ending.