Government researchers have expressed concern over the fact that climactic changes caused by greenhouse gasses are creating a global warning pattern that is uneven in North America.
Can we ever catch up to the rest of the world, and should we bother? Read on and decide.
Global warming is no myth and it is happening right now. Sadly, it is the human race and our emissions of greenhouse gasses that are causing it. Last year the International Panel on Climate Change, studying the planet as a whole, concluded that global warming is “unequivocal, is already happening, and is caused by human activity.”
It is, perhaps, the rate of the warming that is so very alarming. According to a number of significant climate studies, the last two decades of the 20th century were the hottest in 400 years, and possibly the warmest for several millennia. In addition, it has also been reported that almost the entire last dozen years are among the warmest since 1850.
North American precipitation hasn’t changed much one way or the other since 1951. Still, according to Martin Hoerling of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory:
“There is a warming hole where no change has occurred at all in the center of the country, roughly between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians. Weather observations are the Rosetta stone. We see a cause-effect relationship in data… Human-induced warming is the overall driving factor and also is the major cause of changes in sea-surface temperature.”
Arctic ice is fast disappearing, affecting this area of the world most adversely. Records compiled between 2000 and 2004 by the multi-national Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Organization indicate that average temperatures in Alaska, western Canada and eastern Russia have risen to twice the global average!
The average surface temperatures across the United States have increased 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1951, nearly all in the last 30 years. Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it. These gases persist in the atmosphere for years and even if such emissions were eliminated today, it would not immediately stop global warming.
At the rate things are going, by 2040, polar bears and indigenous Arctic cultures may be dangerously near extinction and the region may experience its first completely ice-free summer. As of now, these segments of the population are already suffering terribly from the loss of this sea-ice.
Mountain snows and glaciers are rapidly melting, and Montana’s Glacier National Park now has only 27, which is terrible when one considers that there were 150 glaciers back in 1910! More than a million species of fish and fauna face extinction from disappearing habitat, changing ecosystems, and acidifying oceans.
According to William J. Brennan, acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
“The continent as a whole is warming, mostly as a result of the energy sources we are using.”
Global warming results in a rise in sea level, more extreme weather events including heat waves, frosts, droughts, storms, extinction of species, loss of entire forests, marine life destruction and glacial retreat. The North American Climate Change reports that six of the ten warmest summers in the continental United States since 1951 occurred between 1997 and 2006, and that the largest yearly average regional temperature increases have occurred over Northern and Western North America, with up to 3.6 degrees warming in 56 years over Alaska, the Yukon Territories, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
Some experts point out that natural cycles in Earth’s orbit can alter the planet’s exposure to sunlight, which may explain the current trend. Almost every hundred thousand years, orbital shifts have caused the Earth to experience warming and cooling cycles. These alterations have occurred over the span of several centuries, but in modern times, changes have taken place much more quickly, over the past hundred years or less, in fact.
The possibilities are endless and quite alarming for both the future of North America and the world. Global warming may well become uncontrollable by creating a feedback effect. This means that rising temperatures could release additional greenhouse gases by unlocking methane in permafrost and undersea deposits, freeing carbon trapped in sea ice, and causing increased evaporation of water.
It would be comforting to know that human-caused global warming, also known as anthropogenic climate change, is slowing up, but according to mounting evidence, global warming shows no signs at all of cooling down.