Avery Boulware, Campus Carrier Managing Editor
As I write this, my last piece of content for the Campus Carrier before my December graduation, I am under a large knit sweater, shivering. I am seeking a sunbeam to sit in to warm myself and debating buying yet another hot coffee with my rapidly-depleting Flexbucks. Yet I am dedicating my final Carrier publication to convincing you, reader, that global warming is very real and, if left unchecked, very dangerous.
Nature has given us a number of signs pointing to global warming in the past 30 years or so. Some of these seem to laugh in the face of the 20-degree wind-chill outside, but stick with me. According to NASA’s web page dedicated to global climate change evidence, the global temperature has risen almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century, which is largely due to increased carbon dioxide and other emissions into the atmosphere. Though there have been several cycles of fluctuation in the CO2 in the air over the past 400,000 years, it had never measured more than 300 ppm (parts per million) until the year 1950. Since then, the CO2 levels have risen exponentially. This is a problem because the CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat, which makes Earth a sustainable planet to inhabit, unlike the others in our solar system. However, the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more heat that is trapped inside, thus causing temperatures to increase. The oceans have also absorbed much of this heat – the top mile or so of ocean has warmed about a half degree Fahrenheit since 1969. Sea levels have also risen 8 inches in the past century, but that rate has doubled in the last 20 years and is continuing to increase every year.
These facts are fairly indisputable, though our president has chosen to ignore their implications. Last December, President Trump tweeted: “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!” Just yesterday, a reporter asked Trump to comment on the most recent National Climate Assessment report, which predicted an economic cost of a hundred billion dollars, sea-level rise, extreme weather and increased disease if the country does nothing to fight climate change. Trump rejected the report because he “doesn’t believe it.” He later told the Washington Post: “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers (in climate change.)”
Trump will do nothing to combat global climate change because the South is experiencing cold winters and because our “air and water is at a record clean.”
This is incredibly ignorant and ultimately dangerous thinking. Many recent reports have found that these cold Southeastern winters are actually a byproduct of global climate change. Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at Rutgers University, told NBC News that “very recent research does suggest that persistent winter cold spells (as well as the Western drought, heatwaves, prolonged storminess) are related to rapid Arctic warming, which is, in turn, caused mainly by human-caused climate change.” She explained that, historically, cold air has swirled above the North Pole in what scientists call the “polar vortex,” kept in place by a strong jet stream, which slices around the top eighth of the planet.
However, as oceans increase in temperature, the jet stream is weakened, letting the cold air in the polar vortex move south. This, in turn, causes my hair to freeze when I get out of the shower, even in Georgia in mid-November.
If you are still unconvinced, I highly encourage you to do your own research. There are always contending theories and studies, and it is hard to parse out the truth, especially if you aren’t a renowned climate scientist. And no matter what you discover, please do not use our president’s excuse. Not “believing” in a global phenomenon does not make it disappear.