Climate Change


Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA

The topic of climate change is one of the most discussed in the modern political and social sphere. It is a problem that concerns many to the point of taking action, while others couldn’t care less about. Some people refuse to even believe that climate change even exists, at least as an effect of human interaction with the environment. There is no denying the facts, though, climate change is real, and it’s a huge problem.

According to a study conducted by NASA at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average temperature of the earth has increased by about 1.4 degrees fahrenheit since the year 1980. That’s about .04 degrees per year. This may not seem like much, but you wouldn’t even be able to physically feel the temperature change in a room. This doesn’t take away from the urgency of the situation at all though, it’s an (very slightly) exponential number. This means that the more damage that is done to the environment, the larger that number is going to get. For example, five years from now, that number could change to .05 degrees per year and five years after that it could be something like .061 degrees. This still doesn’t seem like much, but it most certainly is. 

This .04 degrees could be the final push for ice caps to melt in the polar regions. 

The melting of the ice caps causes sea levels to rise, due to the fact that liquids are less dense than solids, meaning that the molecules in a liquid are more spread out. Water takes up more space than ice does. According to the U.S. government’s National Ocean Service, sea levels are rising at a rate of about ⅛ of an inch per year. This, again, doesn’t seem like much. It’s barely noticeable amount of change, but it’s there, and it also rises exponentially with the temperature.

 This affects a multitude of people within not only America, but throughout the entire world. In America alone, forty percent of people live within a coastal area. Higher sea levels allow for coastal storms, like hurricanes, to do more damage. A hurricane is basically a giant wind storm that draws water up from the ocean and then spits it back out onto the land. When sea levels rise, hurricanes are allowed to travel even further inland and destroy even more lives. The intensity and occasion of these storms is also able to increase due to climate change, as the increased evaporation of water from rivers oceans and lakes allows for more storms to take form, and also increases their intensity. Think of all of those affected in Katrina and Andrew and the fifteen other storms like them that have happened since the year 2000. Those people are direct victims of climate change, whether they realize it or not.