Having been born and raised on the East Coast of the US for most of my life, I’ve noticed many changes in the weather. Seasons are no longer the same as they used to be in terms of how hot or cold it is, and how long they last. There’s an explanation for these subtle changes over time which can be summed up in one word: global warming. This change is primarily due in part to the involvement of the human species. The scientific definition of global warming is the gradual increase in the overall temperature of Earth’s atmosphere which is generally attributed to the greenhouse effect.
The greenhouse effect is caused by increasing the levels of gases, primarily carbon dioxide, that exist in the atmosphere. These gases (in excess) didn’t naturally enter the atmosphere, because this was due to the advancement of the human race as a whole. This effect can be broken down into a few actions. As energy enters the Earth from the Sun, it bounces off clouds in the atmosphere and returns to space. Some of this energy makes its way to the surface and is still reflected back into space due to the cryosphere. A small amount of this energy makes it to the surface and proceeds to warm it. After warming, energy from the surface makes its way into space again, but some of this energy is reheated in the atmosphere and sent back to the surface. In short, the energy is reflected and emitted multiple times from Earth’s atmosphere and surface to space, and so-forth.
The energy reheated is what primarily comprises the greenhouse effect. As civilization advanced and got bigger, so did the means of making structures that required more power to function. This growth did not account for the negative impacts their actions would have on the planet we live on. During the period in history when industrialization was at an all-time high, national leaders authorized the pumping of more harmful gases into the air. Since those times we are still harming our planet with these greenhouse gases. Earth is becoming warmer and warmer every year, and the gradual temperature increase isn’t the only thing that we have to be worried about.
One of the many disastrous effects that comes with global warming is the increase in droughts and heatwaves that we’ve recently experienced. Since the temperature would get hotter all over the world, the ice caps are melting, and areas with low water access would find it even harder to procure water. According to an article posted by NASA regarding heatwaves and droughts, “…As the years go by, summer temperatures are projected to continue rising, and a reduction of soil moisture, which exacerbates heat waves, is projected for much of the western and central U.S. in summer…” If we don’t do something to effectively curb the rate at which we are emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, eventually the earth will suffer unrepairable damage. However, just because we are on track for this to happen, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try to avoid it. I can definitely say that I’ve noticed a distinct difference in the seasons, in both length and severity, over a 10-year period. Living in New York throughout this time has brought me to conclude that the winters aren’t as cold as they used to be, and it rarely snows. All in all, as time passes, I’m starting to see less of the normal winter seasons attributes and more of what looks like an extended fall. The summers are that much more brutal and scorching. These changes will only become more and more apparent and widespread as time passes. I fear that the people with the ability to make the most change to this endless cycle won’t start to care until it affects them financially. If this is what we must wait for in order to see a change, then we’re in trouble.
“The Effects of Climate Change.” NASA, NASA, 30 Sept. 2019, www.climate.nasa.gov/effects/