How Does Global Warming Affect You?

What you need to know about climate change and how to fight it

Global warming. Climate change. It's a scary thought that the Earth is getting hotter because human activity and industry are spewing CO2 and other harmful gases into the atmosphere. Have we really locked ourselves into a giant greenhouse? Is our planet destined to slowly get hotter and hotter until it can no longer sustain life?

Evidence for global warming

According to the International Panel on Climate Change, for one or two thousand years prior to the year 1850, the earth's temperature was relatively stable. During that time period, there were fluctuations and trends, but the overall climate of the Earth remained more or less the same. However, since then, there has been a steady increase in worldwide average temperatures, especially within the past two decades. In fact, NASA, The National Climatic Data Center, The World Meteorological Organization and the Climatic Research Unit all show that 1998 and 2005 were the two hottest years on record.

Critics and skeptics of the global warming theory will cite recent cold weather storms across our nation as evidence against global warming. However, these severe winter storms are actually evidence that global warming is occurring. Former Vice President Al Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth and founder of the Alliance for Climate Protection, points out that overall higher temperatures have increased the process of evaporation, which puts more moisture in the air, and then dumps it on certain areas in the form of rain or snow.

How global warming affects daily life

The global warming trend will not always manifest itself as hotter weather. It will often mean more storms, more precipitation and more extreme weather patterns. Scientist Kevin Trenberth, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, claims that increases in water vapor levels in the atmosphere can leave one state in a drought, and at the same time cause floods in a nearby state. Increases in the frequency and severity of hurricanes and tornadoes are also manifestations of climate change.

Kent Garber, who writes on energy and environmental issues for U.S. News and World Report, says that American crops will suffer because of global warming, thus affecting our agriculture and our economy.

What you can do to help

Although the situation may sound a little grim, take heart. There is always hope.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests simple, commonsense ways to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. The first is simply to walk, bike, carpool or take a bus, rather than driving. Commuters who depend on having their car at all times should look into purchasing a hybrid.

Second, always recycle. Less energy is used to recycle materials than to create brand-new packaging. When buying appliances or electronics, look for the Energy Star symbol. A reduction in power consumption always equals a reduction in greenhouse gas production.

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