Climate change continues to be a hotbed issue

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It’s time we talked about climate change, especially due to all of the hurricanes and earthquakes lately. This is not normal, and it’s a serious problem that many people don’t even believe exists. Climate change is also not a topic that should be considered a debate. 97 percent of scientists agree that it is real, and that it is a problem. Both American and international scientific associations have released statements in regard to climate change as well.

NASA’s website states, “Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the ‘greenhouse effect’ — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.” What humans do to enlarge the greenhouse effect is release greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, methane and even water vapor. The main things that emit these gases are the burning of fossil fuels, industrial activities and mass agriculture.

According to NASA, the global temperature has risen 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, and 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been since 2001. Not only is this heat uncomfortable, it is also bad for farming and contributes to arctic ice shrinkage. In fact, in 2012, the arctic summer sea ice melted to the smallest amount ever recorded. However, one common mistake is that global warming is the only climate issue right now. While it is true that the overall temperature is getting much hotter, there are additional problems, such as rising sea levels, increased amounts of natural disasters, and ocean acidification.

One effect we are seeing right now is an increase in the amount and severity of tropical storms. This means they have heavier rainfall or stronger winds than a typical hurricane. It is not common that we get three massive hurricanes like Harvey, Irma and Maria so close together.

According to BBC, it isn’t possible to say these storms were 100 percent caused by climate change, but most scientists think it is a major factor. The 2014 National Climate Assessment states that the frequency, length and strength of hurricanes has been increasing since the 1980s, but it seems to have gotten especially worse this year. According to Inside Climate News, the warmer air traps more water vapor, thus leading to the heavy rainfall like in Hurricane Harvey.

However, I don’t want to end this on such a negative note. There are things that we can do to slow down or prevent further climate change. For those who can afford it, purchasing a fuel-efficient car or installing solar panels are great choices. For the rest of us college students who are tight on cash, carpooling saves money as well as the planet. You can also call your political representatives and tell them you want action on climate change, such as regulations on corporations and more energy efficient infrastructure. You can also dispose of waste more efficiently, as landfills give off greenhouse grass. The best way to do this is to recycle paper, plastic and glass, and compost food scraps if possible. The final thing I urge you all to do is simply stay aware and informed on climate issues. This is the only Earth we have, and we can’t afford to destroy our planet.