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Greenhouse gas infects atmosphere

Polar bears must swim longer to find ice, while fish must move farther to find cooler water. A winter day in January feels as if it were in June. Great glaciers in the mountains melt, sea levels rise, and the culprit is “greenhouse gas.”

Gasses that thicken the atmosphere are called greenhouse gasses; heat from the sun is then trapped inside this thickened boundary and in turn, heats the earth.

According to Breaking News English, because of this heat, the ten warmest years in record have occurred during the last twelve years. Greenhouse gasses are the criminals responsible for this global warming issue.

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greenhouse gasses are introduced into the air in the form of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and fluorinated gasses. Carbon dioxide is emitted through the burning of fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. Burning of solid waste and wood, as well as the creation of cement contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.

According to the Hinkle Charitable foundation, the United States forms 4% of the world?s population, yet emits 20 tons of carbon dioxide each year, or 25% of total greenhouse gasses.

Measures taken to reduce warming

President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union speech on Jan. 23. During which, Bush addressed global warming by mentioning the importance of the issue, and initiated a plan to reduce gasoline use by 20% over 10 years. Regulations on gas mileage for American car manufacturers and reductions on greenhouse gas emissions were not addressed.

Many citizens believe reducing gas usage by 20% is near impossible, and feel that the president should have addressed gas emissions as well. Some students feel the same.

?People will still have to drive just as far as they do now in ten years,? Zack Marsh, ?08, said. ?Without manufacturer regulations, people are going to use the same amount of gas. One has to wonder why car companies haven?t had to make any changes in such a long time.?

However, other students feel differently.

?I feel that the government even doing something to help is better than doing nothing,? Ashley Hall, ?08, said, ?but, I don?t know if it will work or not.?

Officials with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration say that Bush?s plan to reduce gas usage can in turn increase greenhouse gas emissions because the plan outlines using alternatives to foreign oil. Burning these alternative fuels emits carbon gasses into the air, contributing even more to the climate issue.

While global warming appears in the media often, some students are unaware of the issue.

?I?ve heard the term ?global warming?,? Spencer Lee, ’10, said. ?But I?m not really sure how it affects me, or what it really is.?

Greenhouse produces side affects

However, global warming has an effect on nearly everything, be it subtle or otherwise. The heat trapped inside the atmosphere not only contributes to the melting of major ice masses, but also changes environments and habitats for animals and people around the world. Various insects and animals have overpopulated areas that have grown warmer, or been forced to move to a new habitat because of climate changes.

Edith’s Checkerspot Butterfly is one example. Population of the butterfly is falling near the Mexico-California border because the climate has become too warm. However, the butterfly?s population is expanding in British Columbia, where it used to be too cold.

According to Hector Galbraith of Galbraith Environmental Sciences, by some estimates, as much as a third of all species will be extinct by 2050.

Not only has global warming displaced some animal species, but the heat also produced by global warming contributes to the annual melting of the ice in Greenland, which has increased over the last ten years.

If the ice sheet of Greenland melted entirely, ocean levels would increase up to 23 feet and would reach cities like San Francisco, London and Los Angeles. At the current rate, scientists project an ocean level rise of two to three feet per century.

Not only are rising sea levels a matter of worry, but also the temperature of the ocean water.

Hurricanes have become stronger and more numerous. Last year, hurricane Catarina struck Brazil, and formed in the south Atlantic- a location scientists believed nearly impossible for a hurricane to form.

The basic science is that hurricanes grow stronger as they travel over warm water and the air above it. One example of how this science affects humanity is hurricane Katrina, which grew stronger as it traveled over the heated Gulf of Mexico.

Temperature on land has also been affected. Temperature records have been broken in all corners of the nation. New York had a record-breaking 72-degree day on Jan. 6 and sub-zero temperatures on Jan. 26.

In last year?s film, An Inconvenient Truth, the facts of the heating issues are put on display.

?Our ability to live? is what is a stake,? Al Gore, film narrator, said.

To learn how to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, visit climatecrisis.org. Some suggestions include using energy efficient light bulbs, making changes to your thermostat and some unexpected ways to help such as unplugging electronic appliances when not using them.

A few subtle changes can potentially preserve the world for future generations.

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