Global warming is currently the most dire issue facing our planet. Though many are aware of the effects of global warming, the primary factors causing it are much less known. There are two major contributors - carbon dioxide emissions, most commonly from fossil fuel burning power plants, and methane emissions, generally from herbivorous animals. Other factors, such as deforestation and chemical fertilizers, play large roles in negatively contributing to global warming as well.
The destructive process of climate change follows as such:
The carbon dioxide and methane emissions create holes in the ozone layer, causing harmful ultraviolet light from the sun to break through. This causes a tremendous downhill effect; melting glaciers and ice caps means a rise in sea levels, as well as less water flowing downstream. This is incredibly concerning considering that 10% of Earth’s surface is made up of glaciers. Less river water means less water for crops, livestock, and urban living. In both north and south poles, the heating of the ground will melt permafrost. Permafrost is a thick layer of frozen soil which the poles and other nearby regions, such as Alaska and much of Canada, lie on top of. Not only will decreased levels of permafrost literally sink many of these regions, but high amounts of methane stored inside will be released to the ozone. The heat introduced from ultraviolet light will cause abnormal weather patterns, thus forcing several species who rely on a stable pattern into extinction. This imbalance will inevitably cause earthquakes, storms, and other natural disasters to occur much more frequently.
There are several steps we can take as individuals to help lessen the impact of global warming. One such way is in the form of dietary consciousness; by switching to a vegetarian diet, the demand for livestock that emits carbon dioxide into the environment is drastically lowered. Being aware of our consuming habits can be incredibly environmentally beneficial as well. For instance, it takes approximately 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 lb. of meat. Living a zero-waste lifestyle dramatically cuts back this unnecessary loss of resources.
Unless we take the necessary steps towards eliminating many of these factors now, it will only be a matter of time until Earth folds in on itself.
"We are running out of time, but if one billion people change their lifestyles, we could still save the Earth."
- Master Cheng Yen