Environmental forecast predicts increased climate change


Infographic Illustration: Jasper Green

Climate Change has both environmental and economic impacts.

Climate Change is not a new concept

The concept of the earth’s environment changing due to human effects was conceived 150 years ago by physicist John Tyndall, who was the first to discover the gas carbonic acid, which is known today as carbon dioxide. Fourty years after that, scientist Svante Arrhenius hypothesized that the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause the earth’s temperature and mercury levels to rise. This theory was regarded as radical, and until today’s scientists started to notice a shift in mercury levels, it was ignored.

According to NASA, the global temperature is up 1.7 °F since 1880, which is causing the arctic ice caps to melt and glaciers to shrink at a rate of 13.3% each year. This loss of arctic sea ice is destroying animal habitats, and the addition of water into the oceans has caused sea levels to rise 8 inches since 1880. It is predicted that by the year 2100, the sea will rise another 1-4 feet.

“Do I believe that humans can entirely stop climate change and we will liver without any carbon footprint? Probably not. But, we still have to put a huge amount of effort into doing our best to protect our home planet,” junior Lillian Pettigrew said.

Global warming is real, and scientists have directly linked changes in the environment to human emissions of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. These gases prevent energy from the sun from escaping  the earth’s atmosphere, causing it to warm.

“I believe it is impossible for the number of people living on the Earth to peacefully coexist in a way that does not impact the environment, but I believe that we can come up with ways to counteract the damage that has already been done,” sophomore Eliza Reedy said.

Current weather conditions show a global impact

Last year in Louisiana, an estimated 6.9 trillion gallons of rainwater destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the World Weather Attribution (WWA) linked the record breaking rainfall to climate change. Using a model they created, the two organizations calculated that climate change is increasing the likelihood of mass floods like the one in Louisiana by 40%. Likewise in Argentina soybean farmers are taking a hit due to excessive flooding. The Argentinian Rosario Grain Exchange reported that they have lost over 4 million acres of soybean crops.

“If everyone were to just make small changes to their lives, the issue of climate change would essentially be solved. However, these changes are hard to convince people to do, which makes climate change a continuing issue,” junior Emma Hills said.

Rainfall grows more and more each year, as a result of climate change, and snow cover reported decrease each year. Between 1972 and 2015, the average snow cover in the U.S. decreased 3,300 square miles per year. The average area covered by snow between 2006–2015 was 3.21 million square miles, which is about 4% or 122,000 square miles less than what was measured between 1972-1981.

Minnesota winters are brutal and very cold, but the EPA reported that the temperature of the Midwest has risen 1.5°F between 1900 to 2010. Due to this temperature rise, air quality has been compromised. Longer pollen seasons occur every year, and more and more people are experiencing plant based allergies. The temperature rise is also causing more cases of heat stress and an increasing the amount of heat related deaths.

Rising temperature may cause economic falling profits

Not only are health related issues with the temperature rising, but the economy of the midwest is projected to take a hit. The midwest produces 65% of the nation’s corn and soybean, and it has been proven that a rise in carbon dioxide will lengthen the growing season and increase crop production. Though the increase of carbon emissions may be helping the crops in the short term, as levels of carbon dioxide mount, the EPA predicts that the gas will cause too much stress on the crop ultimately offsetting the short term gains.

“Climate change is solvable if action is taken immediately and every nation works together. But, if we keep moving at this rate, climate change will become irreversible,” junior Lark Smith said.

But, making progress in legislation can be difficult to do.

“The solutions in theory are relatively simple: using more sustainable energy and less coal and the like, conserving water and food whenever possible, and passing legislation to help protect the environment. Though, these ideas can be a lot harder to actually apply, as demonstrated by the current administration of the United States,” sophomore Charlie Gannon said.

For further reading, NASA‘s website on climate change is full of information, both factual and interactive. The EPA also has some interesting statistics on a range of climate change topics such as causes, weather, and water quality that are worth a glance.