Media outlets worldwide have been making claims on the fate of our planet and, subsequently, the fate of humanity as we know it. While some sources deny the idea of global warming altogether, others warn that we are already seeing its effects.
”Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth are existential risks that could threaten humankind as a whole, have adverse consequences for the course of human civilization or even cause the end of planet Earth,” according to a Wikipedia entry on risks to civilization, humans and planet earth.
Readers beware of Web sites like this! Claims that planet earth is ending are almost impossible to make as Assistant Professor of Geology Karen Koy explained.
“The world is not going to end… but there will be changes,” Koy said. “We’ve never experienced it though, so we don’t know what to expect. The changes will probably be bad, and we probably won’t like them.”
She further explained that most of the changes will be changes in climate and temperature. As global warming increases climates, the world will start to shift in location. The exact effects on populations will depend on their location.
“It will get worse and worse over time,” Koy said. “It will be hotter and dryer. Things like droughts and dust bowls will be more likely. Not to say that they will happen, but global warming will make temperatures higher.”
Koy expects a 2 1/2 to 3 degree Celsius temperature increase in our area by the end of this century.
This will make what is now good agricultural land not so good and make areas like northern Canada and Siberia
usable for agriculture.
Overall increases in global climate will cause sea surface temperatures to rise. She explained that this will make Katrina-strength hurricanes more likely. Not that they will happen every year, but the chances of large storms like this will become more likely as global temperatures continue to rise.
Permafrost layers in the arctic and Antarctic will slowly start to thaw. As this happens, organic matter locked in these layers will be exposed and start to decompose releasing methane gas. She explained that methane is a green house gas which can further contribute to global warming.
“There is a huge amount of water locked up in glaciers,” Koy said. As temperatures rise this water will be released causing 2 problems. Releasing all of this water could wash away places like Florida that are not much higher than sea level. Secondly, releasing all of the cold water into the ocean may stop ocean circulation that carries heat energy around the earth.
“Global warming is happening,” Koy said. ”We play a big part in it. It will change things, and change is usually bad on the scale that it is going to happen.”
Western freshman Jennifer Filley expresses how she tries to help save the environment in her own way.
“I try to do my part,” Filley said. “Little things, like bringing my own reusable bags when I go grocery shopping doesn’t seem like much, but it’s an easy way to help.”
Filley also rides to school with her sister when possible to cut down on fuel emissions that are bad for the environment.
Koy reminded that little efforts like that add up.
“A million people doing one thing is a million things being done,” Koy said.
So, there are numerous things that can be done to save our world. What is clear is that something must be done because our Earth will indeed change. As John F. Kennedy said in his convocation speech, “We are at the point of no return.”
For more information on the future of our earth, Koy suggests finding reputable sources that are primary such as scientific journals, and secondary such as discovery magazines, and journal source Scientific America.