Is Our Planet Dying?

Kesha Palmer, Opinion Writer

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Our planet is 4.543 billion years old, and humans have only been around for 200,000 of those years. Over the years, our planet has changed and it’s hard to tell if it has changed for the better or for the worse. It’s hard to keep track of what our planet was like before our time because… Well, we weren’t here, and humans weren’t as intelligent as they are today. This has been the only home we have ever known and have we all collectively treated it well?

There are different studies for almost everything: from the study of the plants that grow from the ground to the study of the clouds up in the sky. The study I am mainly focusing on is the study of global warming and climate change. Many people associate global warming and climate change the same thing because they are both weather related. “Global warming” is a long term rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system, while “climate change” is a change in global or regional climate patterns.

Global warming has occurred since the Industrial Revolution and only became serious in the 20th century. A cause of global warming is the atmosphere and the greenhouse gasses that are in the atmosphere. The atmosphere traps in hot air due to the molecules being warmed by radiation and trapping in the heat. The more populations, economies, and standards of living, the more the greenhouse gasses in our air.

Climate change has similar effects as global warming, however, they have slight changes. When public speakers are talking about climate change, they are referring to human-caused and natural caused warming. Temperatures are worsening many types of disasters such as storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. A warmer climate creates an atmosphere that can collect, retain, and drop more water. This can affect weather patterns in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas become drier. These drastic weather changes can threaten certain food production and could cause future vulnerability.

In recent events, the U.S has been facing a polar vortex. A polar vortex is an upper level low-pressure area lying near the Earth’s poles. These dropping temperatures was blamed for several deaths across the region. During this time in Mt. Carrol, Illinois temperatures plunged to minus 38 degrees on Jan. 24, 2019. Making it the state’s lowest temperature on record. The National Weather service in Chicago stated that this is the coldest artic outbreak in 25 years. There have been questions asking if the polar vortex is caused by climate change. Overall, Earth is warming due to climate change and, scientifically, it’s consistent with the extremes expected from climate change. Areas near the North Pole are warming more than two times faster than the rest of the world. This being said, when warm air invades the Arctic Circle it weakens the Polar Vortex displacing cold air masses into Europe. There is no complete evidence saying that the polar vortex is caused by climate change.

There are ways that we can reduce such disasters ,however, we can’t undo what we’ve already done. The glaciers that have melted will remain melted and the heat that is trapped in our atmosphere will remain to haunt us. Social media can’t keep romanticizing the fact that our planet is unstable. Earth is the only home we have ever known. How far are willing to go to make sure we keep it?