Action urged in war on warming

Posted Feb. 16, 2007

Lakes are drying up, ice glaciers are melting, the sea level is rising, and the earth is heating. Sound familiar? It should because these are just some of the results of global warming.

“It’s been a political issue rather than a scientific issue,” professor of biology and Interim Provost Robert Neher said.

Global warming is an increase in the earth’s surface temperature caused in large part by the burning of fossil fuels, industrial pollutants, and the “greenhouse effect.”

“People need to come to the realization that it is a big problem and (they) need to be more environmentally conscious,” Brandy Misquez, a senior biology major, said.

“We can’t reverse what’s happened, but we can protect our children and grandchildren.”

During the past century, the average temperature has risen to about 0.75 Celsius which is about 1-1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists expect global temperatures to rise another degree Fahrenheit between 2000 and 2030 and 2 to 4 degrees by 2100.

Past years indicate that global warming has occurred and is continuing to occur; 2005, was the hottest year on record, according to NASA scientists.
Global warming is gradually heating the earth and many believe we will continue to experience record-breaking temperatures for years to come.

“We can make a difference,” professor of biology and biochemistry, Jay H. Jones said. “We must act now to have an effect in the long term.”

Global warming is causing ice glaciers and ice caps to deteriorate. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest summit for nearly 12,000 years, has ice glaciers that are disappearing. It has lost 82 percent of its ice since 1912. Scientists predict that it could be entirely gone by the year 2020.

“We knew these things would happen, but we didn’t know it would happen so fast,” Jones said. “It’s like a moving freight train. You can stop speeding up, but it takes a while to slow down.”

Due to the frequent melting, sea levels are rising. Over the last 100 years, the global sea level has risen to around four to eight inches. Scientists say this could eventually flood cities.

They also expect global warming to trigger more extreme events such as storms, tornadoes, heat waves, flooding and drought.

“More people should get educated about it. That way we start using things to prevent global warming or else it will never get fixed,” Victoria Allende, a junior communications major, said. “I think if we we’re going to fix it, we should start now. I never think it’s too late to try.”

Many people would like to contribute to slowing down global warming.
They can start by driving more fuel-efficient cars, driving less, reducing electricity usage around the house, recycling, or doing simple steps such as planting trees to help absorb excess carbon dioxide.

“I’d like to be optimistic, Neher said. “We’ve got a good chance of doing it.”

Jones recently visited Ecuador and is concerned that the country will become dryer, will have a higher risk of forest fires and torrential rains.

He strongly suggested people watch the Al Gore documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“I’m seriously concerned about society’s ability to emerge from our societal cocoon, our consumerist cocoon and live lightly on the earth,” Jones said.

The film features surprising and informative evidence of what global warming has done to the earth’s climate in recent years.

The documentary focuses on the issues of global warming and demonstrates Al Gore’s quest to inform the masses about it.

Vanessa Avilez can be reached at vavilez@ulv.edu.

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