Global Warming Slowly Killing Planet Earth

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Many who drive vehicles do not consider what pollution from them is doing to the air and to the environment in Los Angeles, as well as globally. Cars and buses in the daily commute release gases that pollute the air that people breathe.

The media displays a variety of messages; the news and regular TV commercials mention the “Flex Your Power” campaign, urges everyone to conserve energy by turning off lights and appliances that are not in use. This is especially important in the summer, when people want to avoid blackouts and high electricity bills. What a lot of people are not aware of is that both these issues are connected. With the rate of gas usage for cars and electricity for hours-long usage of the Internet, the earth is getting a little too warm.

A greenhouse is a glass enclosure where plants are kept during the winter. The glass helps trap in the heat for the plants to survive on cold days. This is similar to what the interior of a car feels like when the windows have been closed on a hot day. It is also known as the “greenhouse effect.” The earth’s atmosphere is an invisible layer like the glass that covers the whole greenhouse, and it helps the earth stay warm. The atmosphere is made up of several gases, one major gas being carbon dioxide. But too much carbon dioxide causes the atmosphere to get too hot.

Oil and coal are substances that make up fossil fuels; they are all substances that come from the earth. Fossil fuels are used for energy needed by cars, planes and some electric power plants. The burning of these fossil fuels gives off carbon dioxide.

The problem now is that people use products and machines that give off a lot of carbon dioxide.For example, when they drive, all the fossil fuels released by their cars add to the gases that make the earth warmer. Trees play a major role in our ecosystem; they process carbon dioxide and in return they release oxygen into the air. It is therefore perilous to cut down trees, and even worse to burn them because doing so releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is the biggest component of polution known as greenhouse gasses. Methane, a naturaly occuring gas found in agricultural waste and landfills, and hydroflourocarbons and perflourocarbons, which are man-made chemicals, are also greenhouse gasses.

Everyone must become familiar with the fact that every time they watch television, turn on lights, or use the air conditioner they are sending greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Some of the energy needed for electricity comes from power plants that burn coal and oil to generate electricity.

The greenhouse gases released into the air affect global temperature. The climate is changing every year. The clumulative efffect of slight changes, that many may not even notice, through the years will become more evident. The climate changes will affect people’s health. The rising temperature will melt glaciers in the Antarctic, thereby making sea levels rise. It can hurt natural habitats.

In “An Inconvenient Truth,” a film released last summer, former vice president Al Gore said, “If you look at the ten hottest years ever measured [on earth], they’ve all occurred in the last fourteen-years, and the hottest year ever was in 2005.”

What Gore means is that there is existing proof of this “global problem”: the earth is heating up rapidly. The ice on the north and south poles is melting at such a rapid rate that polar bears are drowning, and according to Gore’s film, sea levels may rise up to 20 feet in the very near future. Many scientists agree that they had no idea that the melting of the polar ice caps would occur during this century.

People cannot be expected to stop doing daily activities like watching TV and driving to school; and college students will still continue to use the computer to type up a report or go online for a research paper. However, as all that continues, the problem of global warming will also continue to grow. What needs to be done is for people to gain a greater understanding of what lies behind their everyday activities and thus make wiser, more responsible choices to conserve energy.

Geography 101 professor Darren Leaver said, “There are ways to lessen the causes of global warming, and if we don’t start to balance things out soon enough, there will be problems we will not be ready to face in the future.”

One way to help prevent this problem is to carpool to work or school. Walking to the store or to school will not only help the environment, but will also improve physical fitness. Public transit is also an inexpensive and convenient way to travel. In fact, it only costs 25 cents to ride the Glendale Beeline.

On Sept. 25, it was reported by the National Academy of Sciences that the “planet’s temperature has climbed to levels not seen in thousands of years, warming that has begun to affect plants and animals.” Despite the report, a few scientists doubt that the earth has warmed up at all, but some are already questioning and investigating the causes of the reported temperature change.

James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, who led the research program, also said, “If further global warming increases 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know. The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3 million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today.”

As inhabitants of a planet in danger, people must become aware that the earth has been plunged into intense weather changes. To eliminate all the causes of global warming is impossible, but there are ways of alleviating the problem.

For example, planting more trees will encourage the recycling of carbon dioxide from the air and produce more oxygen. Switching to flourescent light bulbs and other energy-saving products can greatly reduce the demand for electricity. This will lead to a decrease in the use of coal and oil in power plants, equally reducing carbon dioxide in the air.

If the human race keeps adding on to the pollution, industrialization, and all the elements that are causing the climate to change drastically, through the careless and irresponsible use of natural resources, the planet and everything in it will be in a global disaster.