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Kassady Winfrey

ENG 112- Issue Report

March 24, 2019

An Evaluation of the Looming Threat of Global Warming

In the year 1896, Swedish Chemist, Svante Arrhenius was the first to theorize about the possibility of

global rising temperatures due to humanity’s contribution. Arrhenius’s theory would form the backbone

of what science would come to call global warming. Scientifically speaking, global warming is caused by

the admittance of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The admittance of such gases has occurred since

the beginning of life. Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, while humans (and animals) take

in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide. So, a type of harmony was maintained. Journalist Mary Cooper

sums up the situation perfectly “until human population soared and began burning fossil fuels

greenhouse gases remained in relative balance” (Cooper). Earth has maintained its livable temperature

thanks to radiation waves that come from the sun. These waves are then either absorbed by the earth or

reflected into the space. Or, at least that is how it is supposed to work. However, due to the high

admission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the last century and a half, a type of one way

ceiling is being created. Radiation waves are being let in but are blocked from reflecting out. This report

will address two of the conditions said to be caused by global warming and will look at what laws are in

place to combat the issues.


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Global warming is an issue that affects the population of earth in its entirety. There are countless off

spring issues currently being attributed to the climate change, and many of these issues are causing worry.

Considered one of the most consequential, is the continuing trend of rising sea levels. Throughout the

world's history, levels have risen and fallen to a certain extent. 20,000 years ago (during the last ice age),

sea levels were 400 feet lower than they are today, and as the ice age ended levels rose about an ½ inch per

year before eventually leveling out. Water levels remained stable in the 2,000 years prior to human

industrialization.

Since 1900 however, the level of sea water worldwide has risen 7-8 inches, and 3 of those inches have

occurred since 1993. Which, most scientist say, paints an alarming picture of rapid acceleration.

According to journalist Christopher Swope, two things are occurring. Firstly, the earths water is absorbing

much of the heat trapped in the atmosphere causing what scientists call “thermal expansion” to happen;

water is literally taking up more space as it warms. Secondly, huge land based polar ice sheets are

beginning to melt, adding to the existing volume of water. Scientists have lately become worried about

the loss of giant ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, which combined hold enough water to rise global
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sea levels 220 ft if melted completely (28-7). Some government's around the world seem to be taking the

threat of rising sea levels seriously, with many having installed some type of barrier at high risk locations.

“Because of climate change some amount of sea level rise is locked in. The earth is already warming,

polar ice is already melting, and nothing currently stands in the way of those trends continuing. The wild

card is how much more will occur, and when” (swope).

Another possible effect of global warming is a mass extinction. Journalist Marcia Clemmitt highlights

the severity of such an event “A mass extinction would take place over thousands of years endangering

the global food supply and perhaps even human survival” (Clemmitt). Today, scientist’s report that since

the 1970s the earth has lost half the number of its vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and

amphibians), and that around 200 species have gone extinct in under 50 years. Earths rising temperature,

along with deforestation and over hunting, is said to be a major contributor to the loss of species. As the

earth warms; some animals are finding their food supply dwindling down, and others are losing their

natural habitats, and some are dying outright unable to survive the climbing temperatures.

Polar Bears, having long been the face of the climate change movement, are one of the animals most

effected by climate change; they are losing a war on two fronts. On one front, their habitat is literally

melting away forcing polar bears to swim across vast amounts of ocean in the search for ice. Some of

these bears never make it, as exhaustion causes them to drown. On the other front, food is becoming

scarce due to their main food source (seal) seeking out new habitats as the water temperature rises; which

often leads to starvation for the bears. Clemmitt leaves us with some words of hope though. According to

her, many scientists agree that by adapting biodiversity -friendly alternatives, like renewable fuels, the

extinction of both plants and animals would slow significantly (27-44).


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Historically, the U.S has introduced more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other nation.

Over the past 2 decades U.S laws and regulations concerning global warming and greenhouse gases have

changed many times. In 1996, the Kyoto protocol was drafted as an extension of the International treaty

the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This addition was aimed at

developing national programs pledged to reduce greenhouse gases in Annex I nations. An Annex I nation,

being a nation that has greatly contributed to greenhouse gas admissions. While the president at the time

(William J Clinton) did sign the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S never ratified it. Then when President George

W. Bush took office, he pulled the United States from the protocol completely. During President Bush’s

8-year 2 term presidency, global warming was not an issue given great importance.

When president Obama took office in 2008 climate change was brought to the forefront of matters.

During his 8 years in office President Obama approved several regulations targeting industry emissions.

One of the most noticeable being the Clean Power Plan. Journalist Christina L. Lyons summarizes this as

a plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas admissions caused by coal fired power plants to levels at least

32% below 2005’s output, all by the year 2030 (3). Obama’s time in office also saw to the signing (and

joining) of the Paris Agreement, which was meant to represent the “beginning of the end” of fossil fuel

use.
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However, under the Trump administration, many things have changed. “Rejecting scientists’ warnings

about the dangers of global warming the Trump administration continues to unwind Obama

administration-era rules aimed at slowing climate change” ( Lyons). The first big move made against

Obama era regulations came when the current administration pulled the U.S out of the Paris Agreement in

2017. Since then, proposals have been put forward to repel and replace Clean Power Plan signed under

President Obama. The objective being to end the restrictions placed on the industries that deal in fossil

fuel; like the automotive industry. When the Obama administration was in office, officials said that

natural disasters (and their consequences) could be a threat to national security (Lyons 3). The Trump

administration does not agree.

The above report served to highlight two major worldwide issues that most scientists attribute to global

warming. The rapid rise in sea level, and the current looming extinction of multiple species. Both serious

threats on their own, but together catastrophic.


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Works Citied

Lyons, Christina L. “Will Deregulatory Efforts Harm the Environment?” Shibboleth Authentication
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library.cqpress.com.proxy039.nclive.org/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqr_ht_climate_change_2
018&type=hitlist&num=8.

Cooper, Mary H. “Are Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Needed?” Shibboleth Authentication
Request, CQ Researcher, 1 Nov. 1996,
library.cqpress.com.proxy039.nclive.org/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1996110100&typ
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Swope, Christopher. “Are Cities Prepared for the Growing Threat?” Shibboleth Authentication Request,
CQ Researcher, 16 Feb. 2018,
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e=hitlist&num=10.

Clemmitt, Marcia. “Is a Mass Die-off Underway?” Shibboleth Authentication Request, CQ Researcher, 15
Dec. 2017,
library.cqpress.com.proxy039.nclive.org/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2017121500&typ
e=hitlist&num=12.

Marshall, Patrick. “Is FEMA Prepared for Weather Catastrophes?” Emergency Support Function Annexes
| FEMA.gov, CQ Researcher, 12 Jan. 2018, www.fema.gov/disaster/4339/hurricane-preparedness.

Wanlund, William. “Will Extreme Weather Lead to More Global Conflict?” Shibboleth Authentication
Request, CQ Researcher, 22 Sept. 2017,
library.cqpress.com.proxy039.nclive.org/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2017092200&type=hitli
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