Quite Simply, Earth has a Greenhouse Gas Problem
Earth has a gas problem. To many, this is old news. To some, it’s confusing news. To a very small minority, it’s fake news. To let it sink in a little more it’s worth repeating: earth has a greenhouse gas problem.
A good way to learn what this greenhouse gas problem is all about, NASA’s Earth Minute video series quickly sums up our planet’s predicament. These are worth watching again (and maybe duplicating just in case they mysteriously disappear). Each about a minute long, the Earth Minute videos cover topics from the study of earth to space with the climate in between.
Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun and warm the earth. A little is good but too much causes overheating. The earth’s average temperature has risen over 1 degree fahrenheit in the past century and we’re on a trajectory for 3 to 10 degrees unless we act quickly.
In short, earth has a fever. Symptoms of planetary fever are shrinking glaciers, shifting plant and animal ranges, sea level rise, flooding, more intense heat waves, stronger hurricanes. Sound familiar?
Earth Has a Greenhouse Gas Problem
Regarding our gaseous predicament.
These greenhouse gases – mainly water vapor and carbon dioxide – naturally cycle between the land and atmosphere and ocean. The problem has come about in the last 150 years when we began burning fossil fuels. Coal, oil, and natural gas have been burned for energy and fuel at an alarming rate.
These fossil fuels contain carbon that’s been locked away for a very long time until recently. When we burn that carbon, it joins with oxygen to make carbon dioxide.
The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the more the heat gets trapped warming the planet beyond the natural cycle’s ability to handle. The warmer it gets, the more climate change causes melting ice caps, rising oceans and overall unstable conditions.
None of the natural causes – volcanic eruptions, changing ocean currents, giant asteroids, or earth’s orientation to the sun can explain what’s causing our global warming now.
The bad news is we’re the cause. The good news is, we can change our behavior.
The solution? Learn all we can about carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases and how to deal with global warming. Support your community, city and state policies and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are efforts across the U.S. and the globe to go 100% renewable, divest from fossil fuels, and much more. Learn how you can support efforts to save forests, regenerate land through sustainable agriculture, and restore soils to capture more carbon.
Let’s hang onto the planet we’ve got because we might not find another quite like it.
Author: Kathryn Thomsen
Founder of Hundredgivers, a nonprofit supporting and accelerating sustainability initiatives benefiting local and global communities. In addition to social entrepreneur, Kathryn is a consultant, researcher, writer, communicator and urban farmer. She collaborates with individuals, organizations, and businesses to evaluate and develop climate change, clean energy, and sustainability strategies and programs.