The reality of global warming

By Liz Lavin
February 22, 2007

Emily Buerger

“Is he telling us the Earth is going to die?” eight-year old Megan Dunbar asked after watching Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Her father, biology professor Dr. David Dunbar, tried to explain to his daughter that Gore is saying the Earth could possibly die, but not for a long time.

The United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change released a report on Feb. 2 which stated in no uncertain terms that since the middle of the 20th century, humans have been the main driver of global warming.

The a IPCC report issued in 2001, stated that it was “likely,” meaning there was a 66 percent chance, that humans were causing global warming.

Scientists stated in the 2007 IPPC assessment, which was released this month, there is a 90 percent probability that global warming is caused by human activity.

“Well, are you going to be here when it dies? Am I going to be here?,” Megan Dunbar asked.

Dunbar, starting to choke up, said that was when he decided he was going to make even more of an effort to fight global warming.

“The fact that it affects my children makes it my moral obligation to live to the standards I want to see,” Dunbar said.

Gore makes a similar sentiment in “An Inconvenient Truth,” stating, “What we take for granted may not be here for our children.”

The IPCC reports are widely undisputed because of the amount of credibility behind them. The 2007 IPPC assessment was developed by 600 scientists from 40 different countries, according to Time Magazine.

The world has seen the effects of global warming for years. Polar bears are drowning because of the long distances they are forced to swim when the ice they live on melts. Glaciers are melting rapidly and in some cases have already completely disappeared.

The United States has signed, but the Senate has not ratified, the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement for climate change. If the treaty is not ratified, it is not legally binding. Countries that ratify the Kyoto Protocol commit to fighting global warming by reducing and maintaining their emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

When Bush became president, he did not back the Kyoto Protocol, not because he did not recognize global warming as a problem, but because he was not interested in backing something that the Senate is unwilling to ratify, according to CBC News.

“Right now, this is the number one threat to human civilization,” Dunbar said. “We’re the richest nation, the number one polluter and we’re hardly doing anything.”

If we do not start making a bigger effort to curb global warming, the consequences will be catastrophic, according to “An Inconvenient Truth.” The movie, whose evidence is backed by scientists, says that deaths caused by global warming will double in 25 years; heat waves will be more frequent and intense; droughts and wildfires will increase; more than a million species could be extinct by 2050 and the Arctic Ocean could be ice free by the summer of 2050.

Freshman psychology major Kristie Bergin is aware of these threats.

“I am not shocked by the [IPCC] report, I am horrified by it though,” she said. “I’ve seen videos of the polar ice caps melting and falling into the ocean. How can anyone doubt [global warming] once they’ve seen that?”

It seems the weight of global warming has fallen on our generation’s shoulders.

“It’s your generation that needs to step up to the plate, you just don’t have a choice,” Dunbar said.

Solutions to global warming involve buying low-energy appliances and maintaining energy levels, college students still have the ability to take the biggest step and educate people.

“We need to take action right now,” Dunbar said. “We need to attack this like it’s do or die.”

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Liz Lavin

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