Global Warming: Just Let the Planet Go to the Cows
When we take a close look at our planet it may be easy for some to recognize the state of decline our planet it is in. Some of the signs of decline are the terrible heat waves, grueling storms, out of control fires, and devastating floods (Kluger, 2007, p. 1).The rampant use of natural resources has a very large effect on the climate of the planet. Many people have noticed that the weather has been warmer lately. In 1995 Garratt (1995) reported that it is possible that the past ten years on Earth were possibly the warmest out of the past six hundred years (p. 41). One cannot help but wonder if the human race will be nearing extinction in twenty years. Will our planet be flooded with water because all of the glaciers have melted? Will the rays of the sun be so harsh due to ozone depletion that we must avoid going outdoors as much as possible? Our Earth is in trouble. Global warming is defined as the warming of the entire Earth. Rogers (2008) states that scientists have listed five categories that will be affected by global warming. These categories are water, food, the temperature, our ecosystem, and health (p.203). These are all things that affect the sustainability of life. If we do not stop destroying our planet, there may not be a planet able to sustain the lives of our future generations. In essence, we are not only destroying the life out of our planet, but we might even be taking away the very lives of our future generations. If we do not take care of our planet, then our planet will not be capable of sustaining life. Once the planet has reached a certain level of climate change, and resources such as forests have been completely annihilated, we will most likely never be able to restore things back to their natural order (Simpson, 2009, p. 343). Scientists have come up with many ideas to try and save our planet. According to Stainer and Takoyuki, one idea that scientists have come up with is to cover the desserts and possibly ocean waters in reflective sheeting that will reflect the sun’s rays back off of the Earth (p. 431). Although many people have started going green, the problem of global warming is continuing to intensify because of ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions, continued global deforestation, and the rampant burning of fossil fuels.
Going green has never been so fashionable. Many celebrities are publicly showing their support by reducing their carbon footprints. According to The Carbon Footprint, a carbon footprint is essentially the measurement of how much greenhouse gas an individual produces (p.1). With global warming being such a large problem, why is it that not everyone is jumping at the chance to save the planet? One reason is that there are different opinions as to whether or not global warming is even being caused by humans, or if it is just the natural cycle of nature. Charles Keller (2009) states that some people question the validity of the science behind the theory of global warming. They wonder if perhaps our current global warming is the same as the global warming that occurred during the Medieval Warming Period (p.41). Some people wonder if the sun might hold more responsibility for global warming than greenhouse gases. Science has proven that greenhouse gasses are making a very large contribution to the causation of global warming. How is it that humans are making such a massive contribution to global warming? Gases are being produced as a reaction to the things that humans do on Earth and are being trapped in the ozone layer. Finlayson-Pitts explains that gases and particles caught in the ozone layer affect the climate. Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are some of the worst gases that can be found in the ozone layer. These gases are called greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases contribute to heating up the atmosphere and causing global warming. Daynes and Sussman (2005) state in The “Greenless” Response to Global Warming, that a study done by the National Research Council states that while some greenhouse gasses occur due to natural causes, most are caused by the human population (p.439).
According to Schellnhuber (2008), not only do scientists state that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming, but there is no way for us to control the fact that the water levels are going to rise, regardless of the action we take now. We can only hope to keep the water from rising even further than it will at the projected 2.4 degree temperature increase. If we start decreasing CO2 levels now, we may be able to keep the global temperature from warming more than 2.4 degrees. At a 2.4 degree increase, sea levels will be expected to rise several meters (p. 14239). Schellnhuber (2008) says that a two degree temperature change will result in something people have only seen in science fiction. If we take action now, we may be able to hold global warming down under a two degree increase. In order to make this possible, we would have to completely stop carbon dioxide emission by 2100 and extract CO2 from the atmosphere (p. 14239). Perhaps this may sound like a great deal of work, but it would be much better than the water on the planet rising so much that it becomes a terrible atrocity to the world. The water rising to these high levels will result in a very large portion of Earth’s land mass being swallowed up and taken over by water. Cities will flood and people will have to find new homes. When looking at the devastation that occurred in an advanced country such as the United States when New Orleans flooded, it can be easy to imagine the devastation that extreme flooding would have on the world. Many places in the world are not as equipped to deal with these types of emergencies as the United States. Many people died, violence ensued, homes were lost, and many individuals became sick. Many of the people that were victims of this flood have still not been able to return home, several years later. If extreme flooding were to happen in the world one could only imagine the war and devastation that might ensue. Imagine if the scientists who foretell that eighty percent of the Earth will be overcome by water are correct. Entire countries would be wiped out. There would not be enough land mass to provide homes for all of the people in the world. Countries would go to war over the remaining land mass.
One of the largest sources of greenhouse gasses is vehicle emissions. A large portion of the methane gas that can be found in the ozone is from animal manure. A very large portion of this manure is produced by cows. Why is it that methane gas that originates from cow manure is considered to be a human activity that is attributing to the causation of global warming? Humans eat a very large quantity of meat. Meat comes from livestock, which produces so much manure that it takes up acre after acre of farmland. of manure. How can people help? Any person that consumes meat can make a major contribution to saving the Earth by giving up or reducing their meat intake. If human consumption of meat were not so rampant, than there would not be so much manure available to release methane gas into the ozone layer. With a global reduction in meat consumption there would not be need to raise as much livestock to satisfy the seemingly insatiable appetite people have for meat.
Reducing global meat consumption also reduces the need to raise so many animals for food. Having less animals to feed will mean that fewer crops must be grown to feed these animals. Crops that are grown strictly for livestock use currently take up a very large percent of the land mass that is currently utilized for growing crops. It also takes a very large quantity of fossil fuels to transport the food these animals require. The animals themselves increase fossil fuel use as well. The livestock must often be transported before they ever become meat. Once the animal has become meat it must be transported to many different places before it ends up on the shelf at the local supermarket.
Deforestation also contributes greatly to the growing epidemic of global warming. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, deforestation has a major impact on global warming. Deforestation, according to Brown (1991), contributes greatly to the massive amount of gases that are heating up the Earth’s ozone layer (p. 445). One reason that trees are chopped down is so that room can be made to grow crops to feed livestock. Trees are also chopped down so that there is wood to build homes, wood for furniture, and wood for all of the other things people may want and or need. As the human population expands, forests are cut down to make room for more housing and businesses. Many people have taken a stand against deforestation. Unfortunately, the amount of people who are unaware of the effects that deforestation has on the ozone layer greatly outnumber the those who are aware and fighting for the survival of the planet.
At the current rate of consumption, the world has about thirty-nine years before it runs out of oil. Oil is a fossil fuel that when burned has a very large negative impact on the ozone layer. Other fossil fuels are coal and natural gas. Vehicles, power plants, and furnaces are just a few of the things that use fossil fuels as their energy source. Perera (2008), explains that fossil fuels will have the greatest negative impact on fetuses and children. The effects of global warming that fossil fuel usage will cause natural disasters such as floods. Fossil fuels will also pollute the air and increase disease (p. 987). Hobson (2010) states that fossil fuels cause most of the CO2 built up in the atmosphere. CO2 absorbs radiation, thus contributing largely to the greenhouse effect (p. 77). According to E. La Rovere and A. Simoes (2008), the world needs to quickly implement a renewable energy source. A renewable energy source will benefit the planet because large industrialized countries can than cut back on greenhouse gases by using renewable energy. It can affect the poor non-industrialized countries positively because it is more likely that renewable energy will be cheaper than the cost of fossil fuels (p. 2).
We are knowingly killing our Earth. The problem that is called global warming, and all of the issues that come with it, continues to worsen with each generation. Will we be able to save our planet from global warming? Which generation will be forced to step up to the plate? Will we miss the opportunity to fix the problem and be forced to watch as global warming becomes out of control? Greenhouse gases such as methane from cows are still damaging the ozone layer. Trees are continuing to be cut down. The population is still highly dependent on fossil fuels. In fact, the rate of fossil fuel consumption only continues to grow as time progresses. The gas that is produced by these fossil fuels is continuing to build up in the ozone layer, trapping heat, and warming up the globe. How can we help reduce the gases that are building up in our atmosphere? As a society we can try to help reduce our carbon footprints to help get global warming under control. One way for someone to reduce their carbon footprint is to decrease their use of fossil fuels. Research done by Gardner and Stern (2008) shows that transportation uses up about forty percent of the fossil fuels that are being used in the United States. Heating and air conditioning in homes uses up another twenty-five percent (p. 17).Turning the temperature down a little in the house or workplace, taking the carpool to work, and reducing consumption of meat are all great ways to help the planet. If enough people do not do their part to save the planet from global warming there will continue to be miles of cow manure leaking methane gas into the ozone layer.
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