Look outside on any Oregon day and the sun will be beaming down. Look out the same window a couple hours later and it’s highly likely that it will be pouring down rain. While most Oregonians will say, “That’s Oregon weather for you,” unpredictable weather is a sign of a bigger issue all around the globe.
Over the last century, the temperature of the Earth has risen 1°C. While that may not seem like a big deal it could have some pretty wild consequences; unpredictable weather is one of them. Earth’s rising temperature was once known as global warming, now we call it climate change.
Climate change is caused by the Greenhouse Effect when heat from the sun gets trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere and cooks it like a rotisserie chicken. This is caused by the burning of fossil fuels like gas for a car.
One big contributor to this effect is commercial farming and even silly things like cow farts. While one little cow toot doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal at all, there are 1.5 billion little cows releasing gas into the atmosphere, which adds up pretty quickly.
Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. It’s the stuff humans breathe out, but it is also produced in massive amounts by the cars we drive, the factories that produce the things we buy and, in many places, the power that keeps the lights on in homes. Trees play a big role in turning carbon dioxide into the oxygen we breathe, but we are losing trees in massive numbers every year to make more room for humans.
So if the Earth is getting warmer does that mean everywhere will start to feel like Hawaii? No. The planet will be affected more negatively than that. Some areas will get hotter and drier, others might get more rain, huge ice caps are melting, higher sea levels and the possibility of more devastating storms like hurricanes and tornadoes are very real. Rain might not seem like a huge deal to Oregonians, but its a big deal if it goes away in other places. If it continues, farmers may resort to using harsh chemicals to save money on their crops, chemicals that can ruin the soil for years to come.
Climate change also affects more than just humans and plants, it affects the critters, too. Animals who live in the poles (polar bears, penguins, seals etc.) are losing their homes. According to National Geographic for Kids, experts believe that the Arctic sea ice is melting at a shocking rate – 9 percent per decade! Animals that live in the rainforests are losing their homes due to the cutting and burning of forests. In areas where the sea levels are on the rise, sea turtles eggs on beaches are threatened.
All of this is why you need to do your part every day. Find ways to reduce the amount of trash you create, plant a tree and pick up litter when you see it on the ground. We only have one Earth and we need to keep it safe and healthy for everyone.