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Climate Change, Things You Need To Consider!

As is the case with many ecological matters nowadays, climate change is a hot topic for debate. Some will argue that the global climate is changing as a matter of natural course while others will point an accusing finger at humankind as the culprit leading to Earth's rising atmospheric temperature. Whichever argument you side with, there can be no debate that the symptoms of a slowly rising fever have begun to show, especially in recent decades.

Whether these climbing temperatures are a result of ordinary natural mechanisms or of human irresponsibility does not need to be debated; we need to look at what climate change is, how quickly it is advancing, and what we can do to alleviate the problem.

Climate change is often used interchangeably with global warming. This is not completely accurate, however, because climate change refers to a change in average statistical data over prolonged periods of time regardless of what caused it. Global warming is usually reserved to acknowledge climate changes brought on directly or indirectly by human activities. Again, we are not here to debate the causes, but to recognize certain aspects of the issue.

When all of us here on Earth are better versed in the machinations behind our gradually rising average temperatures, we can become more conscious of our contributions to climate change and more effectively alter our habits to lessen our own impact. For example, solar output is one possible explanation for the increased temperatures that lead to climate change. The sun emits much more radiation today than it did 3 to 4 billion years ago.

The sun is cyclical in the amount of radiation it gives off, leading to slight changes in climate every so often. One hypothesis as to the varying amount of radiation that reaches the earth is changing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Billions of years ago, there was a larger concentration of these gases, allowing less radiation through, but trapping what did pass into the lower atmosphere.

Temperatures rose and fell depending on the quantity of solar radiation remaining in the atmosphere. Gradually, these greenhouse gases lessened in concentration and a sort of balance was achieved. Today, for whatever reasons, the gases have increased in accumulation again, leading several scientific bodies to conclude that they are playing a role in climate change.

It doesn't matter if humans are responsible or not, we can make the choice to do our part by not exacerbating the problem. One large change we can make is to seek alternative methods for powering our homes and vehicles. Solar cells, fuel cells, wind power, and wave power are just some of the renewable energy sources we can adopt to limit our release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Think about it. If the sun is simply experiencing another of its natural cycles and raising Earth's average temperature, then that is just the way it goes.

But why should we accelerate the process if we don't have to? Imagine the amount of carbon-based exhaust that would be eliminated if homes didn't rely on electricity sources that spewed out fumes as a result of spinning turbines powered by petroleum fuels. Vehicles equipped with fuel cells that simply give off water as a by-product add absolutely no greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. There is still a lack of clear cut evidence that humans are the sole contributors to Earth's climate change, but we can erase that possibility altogether by changing the way our power needs are met.



Another possible explanation for climate change is the increased amount of aerosols in the atmosphere. Aerosols are tiny solid or liquid particles that remain in the atmosphere. It is not completely understood how much of an impact they currently have on climate change, but it is known that aerosols absorb and concentrate solar radiation. Volcanoes, vegetation, sea spray, and forest fires are all known to contribute aerosols to the atmosphere.

Human creations such as vehicle exhaust and industrial plants do as well. These anthropogenic aerosols account for about 10% of those currently found in the atmosphere. Once again, there is no way to accurately measure just how much of an impact anthropogenic aerosols have on climate change, but there is no reason to continue to scatter particles that are known to have a greenhouse effect into the air. Here is yet another case in which using the renewable energy of the sun, wind, and water would greatly reduce the amount of stress we place on the atmosphere to sustain temperatures that allow for life.

Regardless of what is leading to climate change, it is happening. Is it the ordinary path of life on Earth or is humanity burdening the atmosphere with elements detrimental to its function? Whatever the answer, we can do our part to combat climate change by changing our attitudes and habits and adopt renewable energy as the first step in getting back on track.

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By Robert Eckard

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