What is Global Warming?


  Some of the most disheartening views on Earth are oceans filled with trash and pollution, pictures of animals found dead or injured because of habitat loss, and people littering without a care for the environment. There is no doubt that our Earth is in a very different situation than it was 100 or even 200 years ago. Pollution is rising, and the Earth is getting warmer as time goes by.    

  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 92 percent of the world’s population breathes air that contains pollutants exceeding WHO limits. Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals die as a result of pollution every year. Sea levels are rising, and eight of the ten largest cities are near the coast.

  At the center of global warming is the greenhouse effect. This is a phenomenon that occurs when certain gases, known as greenhouse gases, keep sunlight from escaping into space. As the sun’s rays hit the surface of the Earth, these gases retain some of the heat. According to National Geographic, without these gases, the Earth would be 60 degrees Fahrenheit colder. The natural greenhouse effect enables the climate to sustain life, but humans are enhancing the effect, making the Earth significantly warmer.

  However, temperature change is natural, and human activity is not the only factor in the fluctuations of Earth’s temperature. Even taking this into consideration, it is undeniable that humans have increased carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution, according to National Geographic.

  The climate change that is occurring has widespread impacts. As the glaciers and ice sheets melt, the sea levels will continue to rise, leading to the endangerment of certain species. One such species is the polar bear. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that sea-ice loss is the single largest threat to the survival of polar bears because polar bears are dependent on it to hunt, travel, breed and, on some occasions, to den.

  And humans will not be exempt from these effects. As sea levels rise and weather conditions become more extreme, this has a direct effect on precipitation patterns and severity of hurricanes, among others, according to NASA.

  Climate change is evident and has impacted several species already. However, the impacts will not stop there. Environmental changes are predicted to continue through this century and beyond. Global warming is no longer an issue we can avoid or ignore, and spreading awareness is key to saving species and protecting the Earth.