Esther Jung, Grade 11
According to the Stanford Solar Center, global warming is a “gradual increase in planet-wide temperatures” that is affected through factors including greenhouse gases. The surges of greenhouse gases are mainly caused by humans. They are essentially gases that reabsorb heat, trapping it in our atmosphere. Although this process is usually normal, over the years we have caused carbon dioxide and methane to increase. If we do not stop global warming now, the world will never be able to go back to the way it was; the way it should be.
Global warming will not be fixed instantaneously or by just one person. It is a cohesive action that everyone must take to change. The negative effects of global warming are huge. In the Arctic and other polar regions, temperatures are rising, which are leading to melting of glaciers. The melting of ice leads to rising sea levels, which will cause some areas of land to become completely submerged underwater, destroying both natural and manmade objects. On top of this, the increased temperature is causing heat waves to become more frequent and intense. As the globe warms, temperatures will become more severe and cause serious health risks. Wildfires will increase, especially in areas like California. Snow will melt faster, in turn making forests drier over long periods of time. Droughts will increase severely, as will extreme weather events such as tornadoes, flooding, and hurricanes. Coral reefs are receiving long-term irreversible effects, which will cause certain types of marine life to become extinct. If this is not frightening enough, for the anthropocentric people out there, global warming causes crops and meat to become much more difficult to farm, increasing prices.
Thankfully, there are people making big moves for the future. In 1998, actor Leonardo DiCaprio created a foundation that “is dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants. Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities.” Through this foundation, they have funded over 200 projects, supported 132 organizations, awarded over 100 million dollars in grants, and helped 50 countries. The project has supported people all around the world, allowing projects and information to become more successful with the help they receive. Five million dollars was pledged by this foundation to reduce the Amazon rainforest fires.
Similarly, people like Bill Gates, the founder of Windows, have funded multiple projects and foundations that may help the future of our world. Bill Gates was one of the people who helped fund a Harvard based experiment called the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, also known as SCoPEx. The experiment is this: a high altitude balloon will lift different instruments into the air, about 20 kilometers high, releasing calcium carbonate and sulfates into the air, measuring the change in atmospheric chemistry and light scattering. As of August 2019, the Harvard group had raised $16,225,000 in funding, with the majority of the this coming funding from the United States. These injections have been tested only by climate modeling, making it risky for any experiments to be done. Likewise, a newer experiment called solar geoengineering has also been funded by Bill Gates. According to CNBN, the experiment starts by having thousands of planes release light-reflecting particles into the stratosphere, creating a thin chemical cloud, blocking some sun from reaching Earth’s surface. The idea of this is to try to mimic a volcano eruption, but controlling the amounts of particles used. This can supposedly cause sea levels to stop rising, reduce the intensities of heat waves, and more, however, it can possibly cause mass famines, mass flooding, drought, eradicate blue sky, and more.
There are many arguments and difficulties with these ideas. Although one side is arguing that funding and solutions are available in order to possibly save the world, the other is asking the question of “what if it does not work”. The pros and cons are very hard to determine since both are very extreme. There is also the question of ethics. Is what we are doing normal in our environment? Is it going against the natural cycle of our world? Are we trying to overpower higher powers? What will happen if we do not do anything right now? These questions are raising controversy. Another problem is that global warming is a global problem. The U.S. and groups working towards these movements need the consent of leaders and people all around the world, not just locally. There are doubts about the consent of the entire globe, with arguments about how the world is not agreeing to smaller laws, so how could they agree to something so massive. The effects can change temperatures all around the world, causing benefits and disadvantages to different areas. The future is near, but everyone needs to participate and work together.