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A World on Fire

Climate Change is a topic frequently discussed in this day and age, but quite often, many do not realize the impact it may have on not just the planet and organisms living on it, but humans as well. Global warming, a trapping of the sun’s rays in the atmosphere due to an increase in the production of greenhouse gasses worldwide, drastically affects the overall temperature climb of the earth. The current temperature of the planet has risen approximately 1.0 C (1.8 F) above the average temperature of the last century, and looks as if it continues to grow. The hottest ten years in history have occurred since 2005, and 2020 narrowly missed the place for the hottest year in history by 0.04 C (0.07 F). From the years 1900 - 1980, a new record year was set every 13.5 years: showing a slow but steady rise in temperatures. That rate has now increased to a new hottest year every 3 years within the past 40 years. A study published in Climate Dynamics has shown that a rise to 1.5 C (2.7 F) above the average would reach a threshold considered to be dangerous global warming. By this point, the world will experience, as it already has begun to do so, a drastic rise in natural disasters as well as an exponential increase in rising sea temperatures and melting arctic ice. The world is on fire.

According to the Global Center for Biological Diversity, “Global warming presents the gravest threat to life on Earth in all of human history.” Because of the effect of human advancements on the planet, animal species are being forced to try to acclimate to foreign environments, with many thousands of species failing and falling into extinction. In fact, many ecologists believe that the world is currently going through a sixth mass extinction, one based on the effects of humans, named the Holocene Extinction. Many scientists agree that if the current trajectory of greenhouse gas emission were to remain steady, the planet would lose up to 70% percent of all plant and animal species by the end of the next century. Not only is a general rise in temperature directly and drastically affecting life in the polar regions of the planet, but those species living elsewhere are also forced to move to find those few habitats remaining that they can survive in. The destruction caused by the deforestation of the Amazon and other forests across the globe upends species relying on that vegetation to survive, forcing them to move elsewhere and potentially changing the food chains in their new locations. More mountainous creatures are forced to move higher in elevations to reach those cooler temperatures needed to maintain homeostasis. Even those creatures living under the sea are not safe from the damages human interaction leaves in their wake. The surplus of CO2 in the atmosphere acidifies the ocean, chemically changing the water so dearly needed to survive for so many species of marine life including coral, plankton and many other invertebrates. 

Climate Change is an extremely serious issue with seemingly dire consequences for humanity if not slowed soon. The effects of global warming are very quickly snowballing, and must be addressed before it is too late. This is no longer the idyllic earth we learned about as a child. This is a very serious, a very present, and a very real situation.