For this extra credit assignment, please submit a 4 -6 page reflection on this impending crisis to humanity and the planet. Briefly describe what is causing global warming, illustrate what our government can do to address this crisis, and what steps can be taken at a personal level to create positive social change. The position paper must be submitted to the dropbox in this folder by December 4th. Remember to only submit a Microsoft Word document.
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Global Warming Videos
Earth under water global warming future discovery documentary
Al Gore: New thinking on the climate crisis
Global warming — fact or fiction?
Global Warming Websites
National Research Defense Council
Union of Concerned Scientists
16,000 scientists sign dire warning to humanity over health of planet
By Jen Christensen, CNN
November 15, 2017
More than 16,000 scientists from 184 countries have published a second warning to humanity
advising that we need to change our wicked ways to help the planet.
In 1992, 1,700 independent scientists signed the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.” The
letter warned that “human beings and the natural world are on a collision course” and if
environmental damage was not stopped, our future was at risk.
That letter made headlines 25 years ago, but the world still faces daunting environmental
challenges. So environmental scientist William Ripple and his colleagues decided to create a new
letter that has also struck a nerve. Since it was published in the journal BioScience on Monday,
hundreds more scientists have signed on to the letter.
The letter essentially says that if there is not a groundswell of public pressure to change human
behavior, the planet will sustain “substantial and irreversible” harm.
“This is not about some natural phenomenon that is removed from humans,” said Ripple, a
distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University. “If we don’t have a healthy biosphere,
as it is called, if we continue to have major environmental problems and climate change problems,
then this goes directly to the welfare of humans. People need to understand that we are trying to
save ourselves from catastrophic huge misery.”
Though there have been a handful of positive changes, current data show that many environmental
problems have gotten “alarmingly” worse since the last letter was penned.
Since 1970, carbon dioxide emissions have increased sharply, by about 90%. About 78% of that
comes from fossil fuel combustion, such as through the use of coal to heat our homes and driving
cars that use gas, and through basic industrial processes and human activity which accounts for the
majority of the total greenhouse gas emissions increase from 1970 to 2011, according to the
Environmental Protection Agency.
That human activity has helped raise the global average temperature. 2016 was the warmest year
on record, according to NASA. In fact, the 10 warmest years on the 136-year record have occurred
since 1998, according to the most recent data available.
Though the Trump administration has said climate change programs are a “waste of your
money” and that climate change itself is an “expensive hoax,” the data suggest that temperature
increases will probably cause a shortage in the world’s food crops. The weather will become more
damaging, with more intense storms. Sea levels will rise and threaten coastal cities like Miami and
Video on Dead Zones: https://youtu.be/a8ae2vq45eA
The new letter lists data showing a 75% increase in the number of ocean dead zones since the
publication of the first letter. Dead zones are the areas in oceans, large lakes and rivers where
marine life either dies or is driven away because the zone lacks sufficient oxygen.
Although dead zones can occur naturally, they are created largely by excessive nutrient pollution
from human activities like farming and industrial pollution, according to the National Ocean
Service. There are many along the US East Coast and in the Great Lakes, and the second largest in
the world is in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists believe there are at least 405 dead zones worldwide, including near South America,
Japan, China and southeast Australia.
That’s not merely bad news for the fish that live there; it is bad news for the humans who eat the
fish and other seafood that need the fish to survive. The dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay, for
instance — which measures 1.89 cubic miles, or nearly the volume of 3.2 million Olympic-size
swimming pools — results in the loss of tens of millions of fish, which both humans and crabs eat. It
threatens the oysters there, too.
Despite the challenges there, the proposed Trump budget would cut cleanup funds for the
Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and other bodies of water with dead zones.
Fish in trouble
There has been an increasing appetite for fish, but it is getting harder to catch them. The recent
revision of the US dietary guidelines urged Americans to eat more fish for heart health and weight
control. More people have started to see the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which also
emphasizes fish over meat.
The fishing industry has upped its efforts, but there has been a large drop in the harvest of wildcaught fish. In fact, a 2006 study found that all species of wild seafood could collapse within the
next 50 years if more isn’t done to protect these populations. About 2,300 species of fish are listed
as endangered or threatened according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In earlier research, scientists also predicted that this drop could compromise people’s need for
protein and for micronutrients, particularly in developing nations. Already, 45% of deaths among
children under age 5 is due largely to health problems caused by undernutrition according to a
Fresh water threatened
Video on Water Quality: https://youtu.be/i5jGxO28Kw8
Earth has seen a 26% reduction in the amount of fresh water available per capita since the 1992
letter. If conservation efforts and industry levels of pollution don’t change, UNESCO predicts that
the world will face a 40% global water deficit by 2030.
Population growth, industrialization, urbanization and an increase in water consumption have
threatened our freshwater sources significantly, research shows.
Currently, 20% of the world’s aquifers are being over-exploited.
Investment in water infrastructure has gone up globally and in the US, but some scientists question
whether that investment will be enough.
Video on Forests Being Threatened: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4jhjt1_eyM
Between 1990 and 2015, the world has lost 129 million hectares of forest land — an area about the
size of South Africa.
Most deforestation has happened in tropical areas, but the US has also lost significant forest
land. Studies have projected that with US population growth continuing as predicted, the country
could lose 50 million more acres by 2050.
Trees aren’t merely pretty; they help clean the air and water, provide lumber for construction,
create habitats for animals and help mitigate the impact of climate change.
There is some hope when it comes to forests though, as studies have shown that deforestation has
slowed and more forests are better managed globally, suggesting that if humans put their minds to
it, negative environmental trends can change.
Unsustainable population spike
Population growth across Africa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM77ZDak4a8
There has been a 35% increase in the human population since the 1992 letter, putting a strain on
the increasingly limited number of available natural resources. That trend is not expected to change
any time soon.
Researchers predict that there will be nearly 10 billion people living on Earth by 2050, according to
the United Nations, with much of the population growth occurring in developing nations with the
highest fertility rates but also the lowest food security.
Progress has also been seen when it comes to slowing growth, in the form of increasing education
for women and girls and concentrated family planning efforts.
There has been a nearly 29% collective reduction in the number of animals in the world since the
1992 letter. Scientists say we are living in the sixth mass-extinction event, which means threequarters of all species could disappear in the coming centuries.
A 2017 publication also looked at a well-studied group of 177 mammal species and found that all of
them had lost at least 30% of their territory between 1900 and 2015; more than 40% of those
species “experienced severe population declines,” meaning they lost at least 80% of their
geographic range during that time. Put another way: This particular extinction is “more severe”
than previously thought.
In the past 25 years, ozone depletion is the one significant positive trend.
There had been a steady decline in the Earth’s ozone layer, caused in part by gasses released by
aerosol spray cans and refrigerants, reducing the ozone layer’s ability to absorb ultraviolet
After 1987, when the world’s governments came together to craft the United Nations Montreal
Protocol, emissions of ozone-depleting gasses decreased significantly. The ozone is expected to see
a significant recovery by the middle of the century.
The effort to help the ozone is one example, Ripple said, that when people come together to work
on something, they can make a huge impact. That’s what he hopes the new letter will accomplish.
In addition to seeing more scientists sign the letter after its publication, Ripple has been
overwhelmed by the number of other people who have reached out, some sending poems and songs
that they have created about the environment, and pledged to help.
Ripple and his co-authors aren’t sure what the next steps will be, but like many a manifesto writer
before him, he is hopeful, despite the dire tone of the letter.
“I’m an optimist,” he said. “My hope is that this letter triggers a worldwide conversation about these
environmental and climate trends and perhaps more fundamentally that it can raise people’s
awareness of the seriousness of global environmental problems so we can come together. It is so
important to work together as a human race to make a sustainable future on planet Earth.”
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