What causes global warming? You do,silly! Kevin Cummins Sierra Club Volunteer
Increases in carbon dioxide cause the earth to get warmer Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) (plus other gases like methane) in the atmosphere absorb heat radiating from the earth. This trapped heat increases the evaporation of water from the oceans into the air to cause a greater increase in warming of the atmosphere. CO2 has a forcing effect on climate. The combined effect of water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane controls the temperature of the earth.
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing • Carbon dioxide is produced from burning wood, coal, gas, etc. • The amount in the atmosphere has risen from 280 ppm (100+ years ago) to 370 ppm today. • This increase in carbon dioxide is the atmosphere is increasing the heat being absorbed from the earth.
CO2,CH4 and estimated global temperature (Antarctic ΔT/2 in ice core era) 0 = 1880-1899 mean. Source: Hansen, Clim. Change, 68, 269, 2005.
Today’s atmosphere blanket is too thick! • The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere traps more heat and causes more water vapor to evaporate into the atmosphere. • Our new blanket around the world is simply making the earth too warm! • We need a thinner blanket for our earth!
What can happen if we don’t produce less CO2 ? • Temperatures will get warmer. • Glaciers will melt, ice sheets in Artic will melt (Polar Bears hunt on ice sheets) • Sea levels will rise. Utah will be on Pacific Coast…. NOT! • More droughts in dry areas and more rain and snow in wet areas. • More violent weather around the world.
If nothing is done to slow greenhouse gas emissions. . . • CO2 concentrations will likely be more than 700 ppm by 2100 • Global average temperatures projected to increase between 2.5 - 10.4°F 2100 Source: OSTP
Surface Melt on Greenland Melt descending into a moulin, a vertical shaft carrying water to ice sheet base. Source: Roger Braithwaite, University of Manchester (UK)
How can we stop the earth’s “blanket” from getting us to warm? • We must start putting less carbon dioxide into the air. • Most the CO2 in the air will be around for 100 years. • We need to burn less gasoline in our cars. • Burn less coal (or burn it cleaner) for our electricity. • Use less gas to heat our homes. • Use less gas and electricity in our factories and on our farms.
What can we use for energy to replace carbon based fuels? • Solar • Biofuels • Wind • Nuclear Power (may be necessary whether we like it or not!) • Geothermal
We can also use less fuel • Higher mileage cars • Live and work closer to home • Walk, ride bikes • Better insulated homes • Use more efficient lights (fluorescent/LED) • More efficient factories
What can you do about? • Discuss it with your parents, friends and relatives • Conserve more yourself. • Write your elected officials • Go to college and find new and better solutions for the future.
So what’s the bad news/good news if we don’t act soon? • Bad news: We could lose control of the temperature rise of the earth. CO2 and methane from warm tundra and oceans could be released to atmosphere. This could be beyond our control. A “run away condition” • Good news: Schools would close. NOT! • Good news: Maybe global engineering could save us! (reflectors in space, dust in space)
What can the future hold for you children? • More community spirit- we all must work together to solve the global warming problem • A safer world with fewer enemies. GW can only be solved with world cooperation. • Less proverty in the world. Solving the world’s GW problem cooperatively will require that proverty be reduced.
As my high school teacher used to say: • “Don’t be a carbuncle on the butt of society!” • Get out there and make the world a better place to live! • And also don’t forget to take care of the elderly along the way (Myself included)
References • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, www.ipcc.ch/ • “The New Scientist.com”, A Special Report on Climate Change, http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change. • “Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb” by James Hansen, Scientific American, 290, no. 3, March 2004, pp. 68-77. (available for download at http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/) • EPA global warming Website: http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/content/index.html • “Climate Change and Utah”, USEPA, EPA 236-F-98-007z. Sept. 1998, available at : http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/content/us-utah.html • For young children (story book style): • http://www.unep.org/PDF/TORE.pdf
Disclaimer • The preceding is my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Sierra Club.