Friday, September 26, 2008

Temperatures Rising Faster Than Predicted -- Your Family's Health and Safety in Danger

As detailed in the Washington Post today, newly released statistics by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that the earth's temperature is rising faster than most scientific predictions. Says the article --

"The IPCC has warned that an increase of between 3.2 and 9.7 degrees Fahrenheit could trigger massive environmental changes, including major melting of the Greenland ice sheet, the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers and summer sea ice in the Arctic. The prediction that current emissions put the planet on track for a temperature rise of more than 11 degrees Fahrenheit [Corinne Le Quéré, a professor at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia and a researcher with the British Antarctic Survey, said] means the world could face a dangerous rise in sea level as well as other drastic changes."

According to scientists, this rise in temperature is being caused by an excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are primarily carbon dioxide (CO2 – from coal, oil, gas), methane (from fossil fuel production, livestock and manure, rice farming, burning of fields and forests, and landfill emissions), and nitrogen oxides (emissions from motor vehicles, utilities, and any other fuel burning). These gases are produced in such high numbers by human activity that they cause global warming. Greenhouse gases can be significantly reduced if governments, companies, and communities work together.

Rising temperatures change weather patterns, cause many areas to be too dry and other areas to be too wet, melt ice sheets causing a rise in ocean waters and therefore submerging land, and your fresh water sources are also significantly reduced. Here's more on all the dangers of climate change and your family's access to water.

The conclusion in today's Washington Post article is that the problem is two fold:
  1. The United States continues to lead the world in greenhouse gas emissions, which doesn't make an easy argument for other countries to reduce their emissions. By comparison, since 1990 the U.S. has, according to Richard Moss of the World Wildlife Fund, emitted 30 gigatons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, while China has only released 7 and India 1. So, the U.S. needs to step up and be a leader in greenhouse gas reduction so that the world follows suit.
  2. Developing nations are rapidly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Says the Post article "Developing nations have roughly doubled their carbon output in less than two decades and now account for slightly more than half of total emissions, according to the new figures, up from about a third in 1990. By contrast, total carbon emissions from industrialized nations are only slightly higher than in 1990. " We need to encourage worldwide adherence to environmental standards so that developing nations don't follow our polluting path.


Voice your concerns and change your buying patterns -- these are your two greatest tools in curbing greenhouse gases.

Write to your government leaders and ask that the U.S. curb carbon emissions and all greenhouse gases to a higher standard than the rest of the world. Also encourage those leaders to be engaged on an international level in setting global environmental standards.

Additionally, educate yourself on buying more eco friendly products that would produce less greenhouse gases. Certainly buying local helps, as well as staying away from products that burn or destroy rain forests. And consider purchasing carbon offsets to help curb your carbon footprint. The carbon offset programs I trust the most are My Climate, Climate Friendly, and Native Energy.

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