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What Is Global Warming?


More often, when you hear climate change or global warming you think of glaciers melting and polar bears struggling to find ice to rest after a swim to find food. When in reality, the issue is much larger. Sea levels are rising, cloud forests are dying at a rate in which wildlife simply can’t keep up. As the saying goes, “the truth hurts”, humans have caused most of the past century’s warming. Humans did this by releasing heat-trapping gasses in order to power the modern world in which we live in. These gasses are referred to as greenhouse gases, and they are at all time highs.

The result of the damage is called global warming, but has a rippling amount of change to Earth’s climate. To break the term “Earth’s climate” down it means that long-term weather patterns are changing from place to place. Many people think of global warming and climate change as synonyms, scientist use “climate change” when describing the complex shifts now affecting our planet’s weather and climate systems because some areas actually get cooler in the short term.

Humans continue to add heat- trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Humans have come to rely on all these changes in a way that makes reversing all the damage very difficult. As a result, climate change not only has rising temperatures but extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range go other impacts.

So the big questions are:

What will we do?

What can we do?

How will we cope with the changes?

In a time where every second counts, and as we can create change and damage at accelerating rates with the technology we have in place our ecosystems- coasts, forests, farms, and snow-capped mountains are hanging by a thread.

Back to Basics

Greenhouse effect is the warming that happens when certain gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap heat. These gases allow in light but keep heat from escaping, like the glass walls of a greenhouse.

As you can imagine, where the heat comes from (the Sun). Sunlight shines onto Earth’s surface, the Earth absorbs the energy and then radiates back into the atmosphere as heat. Next, in the atmosphere, greenhouse gas molecules trap some of that eat, and the rest releases into space. The more greenhouse gases concentrate in the atmosphere, the more heat gets locked up in the molecules.

If you are just now taking a deeper dive into your understanding of this effect, I would imagine you are perplexed. Can you imagine that scientists have known about this since 1824? Joseph Fourier was able to uncover that the Earth would be much colder if it wasn’t for the greenhouse effect. Natural greenhouse effects is what keeps the each livable. Conversely, without it the Earths surface would be at an average 60 degrees Fahrenheit cooler.

It wasn’t until 1895 when Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius discovered that humans can enhance this natural effect by generating carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas. Thankful for his discoveries, this opened up a door of research to further our understandings.

Similar to how the stock market goes up and down throughout history, so does the Earths temperature. The burning of fossil fuels among other activities enhance the greenhouse effect which leads nothing but trouble. Some people call this a hoax, scientists on the other hand warn us that danger can come from this.

With understanding the greenhouse effect allows for us to realize that it has been a natural effect since before its discovery and how important it is to the livelihood of us on earth. Naturally, it makes people wonder if these temperature changes in fact are natural and how can we find a balance.

Why does this matter?

In short, it’s changing the climate faster than some living things can adapt to. Additionally, a new and more unpredictable climate poses unique challenges to all life.

As a result, weather can become more extreme. It really should be to no surprise of how devastating natural disasters have become after diving into the science of why these things happen. Sadly, it should not be up to us to research all this on our own to seek out the truth.


With all this said, knowing that greenhouse effect happens naturally as well as humans interfering and making the Earth dramatically worse, is in fact the coronavirus helping climate the omissions? Due to the lack of travel and mass production of goods, buildings and businesses closing in turn using less energy to run facilities. Are we reversing something we accelerated? The saying “seeing is believing” holds a lot of weight here. Scientists have been able to show that air pollution around major cities has reduced. The Himalayan mountains are now visible for the first time in 30 years. Dolphins are swimming in Italys canals now that boat pollutants are reduced.

With how scary the coronavirus is, there always seems to be a way to see a silver lining. Is the silver lining here that the Earth has had some time to heal and hopefully the human race continues to find new ways of normal or will the human race continue its mass destruction?


Photo by Alto Crew on Unsplash

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