Monday, October 15, 2007

Just A Drop in the Ocean...

Climate change and global warming has been an increasingly hot topic. However, it is no longer just a discussion for scientists and researchers. It has become prevalent to everyday discussions between adults and even teens and children. Everyone wants to know what is going to happen, when it will happen, and what they can do to prevent it. Unfortunately, only one of these questions can be answered sufficiently (what can we do). However, the Climate Change 101 series in conjunction with PRI and Cornell’s EAS220 class will let the public know what we have learned and what we will learn about global warming.

Some people think that there contributions are so small that there is no way they could make a difference. However, if everyone has this mindset, nothing would get done. It is vital for people to understand what global warming might do so that they could recognize the importance of their contributions.

I would like to focus this blog on discussing the impact of global warming on a transnational level, focusing on the world as a whole rather than any particular region. Obviously, global warming denotes that the temperature will increase. However, this increase is not uniform but rather higher at the poles and lower towards this equator. This is why temperature change can be tricky; if global average temperature were to rise by 3.5 degrees Celsius over the next century, the temperature at the poles could rise by as much as 10 degrees. This would have a significant effect on the polar ice caps, which could devastate the coastal communities with sea level rise, as well as adversely affect the salinity of the oceans, thus affecting the ocean circulations. As you can see, one effect leads to another, which leads to another, etc…

Global warming may affect the severity of weather. It is fairly common sense that hurricanes thrive in warm waters. If the sea surface temperature rises, one could expect more intense hurricanes and possibly, an increase in the number of them. Also, weather extremes will be magnified. Places that currently see droughts will see more severe droughts and locations of heavy rain will experience even greater monsoons.

As a result of the weather, climates will change. Everything will be shifted northward. For example, the future climate here in Ithaca may be similar to that of current Atlanta. This not only affects the way people dress. It affects the agriculture and agribusiness of the area, the disease that is carried through certain climates, and even the livestock and ecosystems of the area. This includes land and ocean ecosystems.

There are many more important effects of global warming. Over the next several weeks, we will attempt to explain these effects, as well as give tips as to what people can do to help. Remember, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” (Mother Teresa)

-Michael Bennett, Cornell University Student

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