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Climate Change: Causes, Impacts, and Solutions

Anna Griebel
University of Northern Iowa

Through extensive research and findings, the causes, impacts, and solutions
of climate change are discussed in this paper. Compiled research from


NASA, U.S Department of Energy, EPA and various news paper articles are
referenced. Also, discussion on The Greenhouse Effect, burning of fossil
fuels and other causes of climate change are thoroughly analyzed. Not only
causes, but impacts on the world from rising sea levels, temperatures, and
changes in weather are also analyzed. Renewable energy sources and
efforts to combat climate change from a political standpoint are also

Lit Review
There is unlimited research out there about climate change. If you
google it, millions of blogs and websites will be thrown at you to try and sway
your opinion one way or the other. The information I am giving you in this


report is from reliable news forums, government reports, and articles from
websites such as NASA. With this information, I will be categorizing the
research into causes of climate change, impacts of climate change, and the
different political views about the issue.
Many people believe climate change is due to the natural warming and
cooling cycle of the earth, called the Planck Response. An article from NASA
(2016) states, Global temperatures remain stable in the long run unless
they are pushed by outside forces, such as increased greenhouse gases due
to human impacts. In saying this, the point being made here is clear global
temperatures will remain stable, only as long as no outside forces are acting
upon it.
When I say many people believe global warming is due to the Planck
Response, I am mostly referring to the people with more conservative views.
With research to back up the point, a poll done from Pew research center
(2015) states, 2/3 of conservative republicans believe global warming is not
happening, or not happening because of the greenhouse effect. From the
same study, 64% of Democrats say climate change is at the fault of humans.
Are politics the barrier that is keeping us from coming up with a solution to
the earths rising temperatures? An article from the Washington Post (2015)
states, There are more republicans who are starting to believe climate
change is a real problem, they may be a lonely few, but they are out


On NASAs website, an article (A Degree of Difference) has many startling

statistics about what climate change could do to future generations if
nothing is done to solve the issue. A statistic from NASA states, The IPPC,
which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the U.S and other countries
forecasts a 2.5 to 10 degree Fahrenheit increase over the next century. The
forecast may seem to be broad, because of the gap between 2.5 and 10
degrees is alot. Evidence shows us just a change in 1 degree can cause
catastrophic changes. Another quote from NASA compliments the previous
argument. 1 Degree may sound like a small amount, but in our planets
history Earths climate record, preserved in tree rings, ice cores, and coral
reefs shows climate is stable over long periods of time, furthermore, small
changes in temperatures correspond to enormous changes in environment..
There are so many articles that tell you al of the possible impacts climate
change can have on the earth, but what are some of the causes? There are
two paths commonly taken when it comes to causes of climate change. The
first one is the earth goes into a natural cycle of warming and cooling. The
Planck Response plays the dominant role in restoring temperature stability.
When the earth goes into a period of warming, the earth responds by trying
to cool it, in simple terms.
There is a counter argument to that theory, though. From NASA article
(We Live in A Greenhouse), About half the light reaching earths atmosphere
passes through air and clouds to the surface, where it is absorbed and
radiated upward in the form of infrared heat. About 90% heat is then


absorbed by greenhouse gases and radiated back towards the surface. This
is a common argument called the greenhouse effect. The earth cannot cool
itself anymore because of the excess of greenhouse gasses in the air. Gases
such as carbon dioxide and methane have a very high concentration in the
atmosphere today (because of the burning of fossil fuels, which give off
these gases.) Gases such as Methane and Carbon Dioxide prevent heat from
escaping, which is why many scientists think the greenhouse effect is the
main cause for global warming.

Climate change has been a hot topic arising over the recent years. You
could call the issue of climate change a tragedy of the commons. This
dilemma has officials having a hard time coming to a common consensus
over what the best solution is. Furthermore, controversy whether it is real, a
myth, or just a flat out lie have been circulating. I will be discussing what


climate change is, some solutions suggested, and the views of climate
change from the different political parties.
So what is climate change anyway? Climate change, or global
warming (which can be used interchangeably) is the warming of the earth,
by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the air, and the burning of fossil
fuels. The earths temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees in the past century.
This number is expected to keep rising according to the Environmental
Protection Agency. The effects of global warming are being seen throughout
the world.
Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods,
droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat
waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some
big changes - oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps
are melting, and sea levels are rising. (EPA, 2015).
The earth has gone through periods of warming and cooling, each lasting
thousands of years. This period of warming can cause devastating impacts,
with glaciers disappearing and the increasing use of fossil fuels.
I have done many research projects about climate change. Even
though all of my projects have been somewhat recent, they all say virtually
the same thing. When you look at the arguments from both sides, one side
clearly wins. I have done a copious amount of research to know the
arguments of both sides. I have considered both sides, but in the end it only
makes sense global warming is real and not a hoax.


It is not hard to find information about climate change; the research is

everywhere. There is an argument of whether climate change is real, but
with the startling statistics and new research emerging every day, it is hard
to prove otherwise.
Carbon Dioxide concentration in the air is 402.26 parts per million, this
is higher than they have been in 650,000 years. Carbon Dioxide is known as
a greenhouse gas. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, release carbon
dioxide into the air. To support the fact the earth is warming and greenhouse
gas emissions are a contributing factor, global temperatures are up 1.4
degrees since 1880, in fact since the year 2000, 9 of the 10 warmest years
have occurred (NASA, 2016).
People who do not believe in global warming make the excuse just
one degree is not enough to make a difference. An article from NASA (The
Consequences of Climate Change) With the U.S being covered in 3,000 feet
of ice, and the temperature just a few degrees colder, it is hard to argue one
degree does not make a catastrophic difference.
Now we come to the question of why the earth is actually warming. An
article from the EPA (The Greenhouse Effect) states,
As mentioned before, the greenhouse effect plays a major role in the
warming of the earth. There are several different greenhouse gases
that get trapped in the atmosphere, some being Carbon Dioxide,
Methane, Nitrousoxide, and Fluorinated Gases. These gases are


emitted by everyday activities such as driving a car, heating up a

home, using electricity, etc.
These are activities happening in every part of the world, so the amount of
emissions going into the air is nowhere close to safe. It is hard to argue
global warming is not induced by humans, with recent trends of melting ice
caps, rising of sea level, and unusual whether patterns.
Further more, The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change has
more to say about why humans could be the source of global warming. The
industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised
atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per
million in the last 150 years. (IPCC, 2016). This is a startling statistic that
shows the dangers of global warming if nothing is done. This information
comes from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, which is a panel
of over 1,300 expert scientists on climate change. Their conclusion was it is
about 90% likely humans are the cause for warming temperatures over the
past 250 years.
Keep in mind not all people have the same views on climate change.
Many politicians either do not think it is an issue, or simply think there is no
such thing. This is where we get into a political dispute between democrats
and republicans. The parties have different views on how we should deal
with the issue. In the late 1970s and mid 1990s, support for environmental
spending was only about 10 percent higher in democrats than republicans.
The gap between opinions on climate change began to be more apparent


after the United States signed the bill Kyoto Protocol in 1997. This was a bill
regarding reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the air, saying human
activity was partially contributing to global warming (Dunlap, 2008).
Republicans started questioning what the exact role of this bill was.
Republicans started criticizing the purpose of this bill saying it was not
needed. They did not only criticize the bill, but also started not believing in
global warming, saying it was so called a hoax.
Politicians around the world are disagreeing on the issue and its
impacts. Some believe the earth rising just a few degrees will not make
much of a difference, while others believe the issue needs to be addressed
immediately. There has been a recent effort to address this problem in Paris,
France. Last year, the United Nations Climate Change Conference was held.
The United Nations is working with the French government to come up with a
binding agreement on reducing carbon emissions. A recent article talks
about how they are close to making a decision. There are many ideas being
discussed about what needs to be in this treaty. One of them is developed
countries such as Australia and the United States need to start recording
their carbon emissions in some shape or form. Underdeveloped countries
are insisting funding to help reduce their emissions and provide green
resources for their citizens. (Taylor, 2015).
Not all republicans feel this way, but the gap between republicans and
democrats is significant enough to see a noticeable difference. On the other
end of the spectrum, democrats have a different view on the situation.



Democrats are committed to curbing the effects of climate change,

protecting Americas natural resources, and ensuring the quality of our
air, water, and land for future generations. From investing in cleanenergy to protecting our ecosystems, the Obama administration and
Democrats are working to address our biggest environmental
challenges, paving the way to a more sustainable America. (DNC,
This website also gives lots of information about what the Obama
Administration has done regarding climate change. Some of these things
include laying out action plans, increasing use of solar energy, issuing new
fuel-economy standards, regulating carbon dioxide emissions, etc. As you
can see, the support on global warming/climate change is very different
between these two parties.
With all of this being said, you do not need to be on the democrats
side or the republicans side to choose how you feel about global warming.
For example, I believe global warming is a big issue, and I am fairly
moderate, even leaning more towards the republican side. Even though
there are a lot of republicans who believe in climate change, there is still a
large controversy surrounding the two parties. If this dispute goes on any
longer or we do not reach a common consensus, that is when things will get
Although many politicians, scientists, and ordinary people have figured
out climate change has evidence to show it is real, there is still a bigger



question. How are we going to fix it? It may seem like a problem so big it
may be impossible to fix, but there are options.
There are agencies that are carefully planning and taking initiative to
come up with ways to combat climate change. Agencies such as NASA, U.S
Department of Energy, The Environmental Protection Agency, and more are
all working together. The Department of energy says Were taking
responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, develop domestic renewable
energy production and win the global race for clean energy innovation. Were
also working to dramatically increase the efficiency
of appliances, homes, businesses and vehicles -- all in support of the
Presidents Climate Action Plan. (Energy, 2016)
With the dispute over climate change, it makes coming up with a plan
much harder. Some of the agencies taking initiative are getting attacked
because using time and resources on a fake problem is a waste. Earlier in
the paper the consequences were revealed. Still, individuals are hesitant to
try and come up with a plan.
This is not an issue that can be changed over night. U.S Department of
Energy says it will take several decades before we start to see a real change.
The good news is solar energy, wind energy, and other renewables are
becoming more and more cost competitive. As people start to switch over to
renewable energy alternatives, is when we will see a difference.
You might be thinking of specific things you can do. To cut down on the
amount you personally are emitting into the air, there are many things you



can do. Some of these include: riding your bike, taking the bus, cutting down
on heat and air-conditioning use, etc. Just with small changes in your
everyday life, differences can be made.
Switching over to renewable energy sources can and will make a huge
difference. Less fossil fuels will be burned, meaning less greenhouse gas
emissions. Although renewable energy sources are a little more expensive
than your everyday heating and cooling systems, the benefits outweigh the
costs in this situation. If we all make an effort to switch to renewable energy,
it is a very doable task.
As shown in this paper the extent of climate change will be devastating
on a large scale. We are now starting to see the impacts in our lifetime, such
as intense wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, etc. This is not a problem that can
be changed over night, but small steps can put us on the right track to
saving our world. With the way things are going right now we are putting us,
future generations, and our planet at risk for serious trouble. Many people
do not know the extent of damage climate change is causing. I encourage
you to go out and spread awareness and join the effort to save our planet.


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