Earth's average temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. Doesn't seem like much, does it?
After all, local temperatures rise and fall by several degrees all the time. But the global temperature is different from our local temperature, and an increase of one degree is a big deal.
"A one-degree global change is significant because it takes a vast amount of heat to warm all the oceans, atmosphere, and land by that much. In the past, a one- to two-degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age. A five-degree drop was enough to bury a large part of North America under a towering mass of ice 20,000 years ago." (NASA)
It's true that there are natural cycles and events that are known to affect the Earth's temperature, but what we have seen in recent years cannot be explained by these naturally occurring cycles alone.
"The only way to explain the pattern is to include the effect of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by humans." (National Geographic.)
And with this increase in temperature has come an increase in the number of massive storms, earthquakes and tsunamis we see each year. These natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more dangerous, and the temperature of Earth continues to rise.
Time for a change
Something has to be done about the contribution that humans are making to the global temperature changes. In his speech about climate change on Tuesday at Georgetown University, President Obama commented,
"The potential impacts go beyond rising sea levels. Here at home, 2012 was the warmest year in our history. Midwest farms were parched by the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, and then drenched by the wettest spring on record. Western wildfires scorched an area larger than the state of Maryland. Just last week, a heat wave in Alaska shot temperatures into the 90s."
The President is calling for change at a national level to help stop global warming. But what does that mean for the average person? Is there anything that you and I can do?
There are steps that we each can take to make a difference. This list from Do Something is a good place to start.
- Take shorter showers
- Carpool when you can
- Reduce garbage
- Plant a tree
- Conserve energy
- Wash your clothes on the cold water cycle and air dry
- Ditch the plastic
Make a commitment today to be part of the solution to global warming; the small sacrifices you make today will help make our world a safer, healthier place for future generations.