A graph - submitted for your perusal.
Now, what does it mean? The bars show average global temperature measured for the past 126 years. Within the scope of recorded data, we have seen an overall increase in temperatures. The most rapid of such has occurred in the past 30 years. Global temperatures have increased by .7 degree Farenheit in the past century and the data coincides with drastic, visible environmental changes. Politicians are finally admitting that the claims scientists have made for decades may have been right afterall.
For those of you who desire hard evidence, look no further than the arctic. Ice there is thinning at an alarming rate according to the author of an article in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. By 2040, summer ice could disappear altogether if greenhouse emissions are maintained at the current rate. The ice doesn't refreeze in the winter, suggesting that ice shelves and summer ice platforms that disappear now are gone for good. This is bad news for threatened species like the polar bear who depend on the ice to be there so they may hunt. Last year, scientists encountered several dead polar bears that had died of starvation.
Melting ice also creates a positive feedback loop that works to eliminate itself at a greater rate. Ice sheets in the arctic act like a giant mirror for the sun, reflecting away much of the radiation to keep the region cool. As the ice sheets decrease in size, more of the sun's radiation is absorbed by the water of the arctic sea that takes their place. Water of higher temperature exposed to the remaining ice causes further melting and thus increases the rate of ice depletion in the arctic. Some computer models have predicted that the entire ice cap will melt by the end of this century. Most models show that the U.S. coastline will become swampland by then.
The only way to prevent the deaths of several species, destruction and property damage beyond calculation, and off-the-chart climate change is to introduce harsh restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. This can very effectively be done through policy if policymakers are encouraged by constituency. It can also be implemented directly by reducing reliance on power from coal-burning power plants and using public transportation whenever possible. Power and gas consumption are two of the main culprits in production of greenhouse gases and must be controlled. We need to take responsibility and adopt an ethic of stewardship. Industrial pollution must be regulated in an even more stringent manner. And this can be done if we petition lawmakers to do so.
By political and direct action, we as individuals have the power to change the fate of our world.
Much of the data included in this blog post was cultivated from the Center for Biological Diversity and the National Geographic Society. Both are self-sustaining, eco-friendly information sources which I highly encourage people to use.