BANK STREET On The Issues
Impact of Global Warming
The scientific and environmental communities are drawing
attention to the way our society is negatively impacting our world. There
is a disastrous trend that will cause cataclysmic alteration to the way living
beings function on Earth —a trend known commonly as global warming.
The average American may feel that a two-degree increase in the
overall climate is minuscule, yet it is sending off alarms to environmental
scientists. The approach of detrimental change may be irreversible. If not
addressed in this century, global warming will endanger the existence of life,
and may transport the Earth back to its lifeless, carbon-filled environment
millions of years ago. Most people believe that global warming’s initial
effects will occur long after this generation’s demise. Many people also
dismiss the urgency for change because it seems impossible that a little gas
emission from their family SUV could influence or bring about killer hurricanes
and mass flooding.
Scientifically, the emission of these greenhouse gases is
the cause for chemical changes in our atmosphere. However, I also believe
that the human diseases of apathy, ignorance, complacency, and fear, make
people ignore the signs of the Earth’s imminent danger and support companies
that poison our environment.
Common gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and
carbon monoxide from environmental stranglers -- automobiles, aircrafts, power
plants, aerosol cans and residential cleaning products -- affect the
environment. Excessive deforestation has allowed these carbon dioxide levels to
rise. According to the US Emissions Inventory of 2004, methane levels climbed
145% over the past century, and are twice as harmful as carbon dioxide. The use
of cars, fertilizers, and burning of organic materials increases nitrous oxide
levels – a major contributor to global warming.
The natural green house effect makes the Earth warm and
habitable. But, advanced green house effect traps high levels of the infrared
radiation in the earth’s atmosphere, causing the Earth to absorb it.
We are misusing and wasting resources provided by Mother Nature
in exchange for ease, comfort, and superiority. The inability to recognize the
problem ultimately results in general indifference, unwillingness to compromise
the ease of technology, and fear of changing society. People do not understand
how they are compromising the lives of future generations; nor do they
understand the sheer magnitude of the catastrophic effects that have come to
light since January, 2007.
Elected officials and leaders are prioritizing ‘going green’ but
people must acknowledge that their daily decisions have led the Earth down this
path. If we chose to ignore the signs and revel in our self-centeredness, we
will be faced with a limited choice -- survival or extinction.#
Astley Robinson, 17, took part in the Canadian-based Students on Ice program
that sent three Bank Street students to Antarctica in December, 2006. She is
the youngest of five and lives in the Bronx. A top student in her class, she
was accepted into Cornell University’s pre-med program starting this summer.
She is a participant in Bank Street Liberty LEADS program.