Thursday, October 25, 2007

WORLD CLIMATE: Redrawing the Map of the World

A climate crisis of astounding proportions is affecting our planet. The warming of the earth’s atmosphere, by burning fossil fuels, and the depletion of global petroleum and natural gas reserves is one of the greatest tragedies of our era. And as these events increase, we will be forced to modify the way we live and how we interact with the natural world.

In normal circumstances, the sun’s energy enters the atmosphere in the form of light waves and manages to heat up the earth; some of that energy is used and some of it is radiated back into space in the form of infrared waves. However, our thin atmospheric layer is being damaged with the presence of billions of tons of human caused gases. Our atmosphere is being thickened by huge quantities of dense gases and, as a consequence, the infrared radiation is trapped and cannot continue its natural path into the rest of the universe; America is surprisingly responsible for the yearly emission of 22 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) -or about 6 times the global average; and most importantly, the building sector is one of the major global greenhouse gas emitting sectors –in the US alone, 76% of the plant generated electricity is used to operate buildings while only 1% is used to operate means of transportation.

The average temperature of the earth is getting warmer and it is projected to continue in that direction. Global average temperatures have stayed fairly constant over the years, until recently; during the past century alone, the global air temperature rose 0.7 degrees Celsius -mainly due to burning fossil fuels and anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Although this increase in temperature may not be very noticeable to humans, it is significant if compared to the recent average increase of 0.7 degrees Celsius during the last millennium. In other words, the same increase of average temperature of the last millennium was achieved during the last 100 years of human history; and, the increases are forecasted to continue.

If we don’t take immediate action to reverse this trend, the so-called "Global Warming" effect will carry devastating glacier defrosting consequences and the newly created water levels will require us to re-map every single one of the world’s coastal lines. A simple water level increase of 3-4 feet will flood the eastern coast line of the United States about half a mile in depth; an increase of 12-15 feet will erase some of the State of Florida as well as substantial portions of the cities of Boston, Manhattan, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Biloxi, and Corpus Christi; most strikingly, according to conservative scientists this catastrophe is "almost irreversible". We may begin to see these effects between 2015 and 2030.

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