I can’t say that I don’t appreciate it – because I do – but the snow that has hit us in Norfolk, Virginia this year has been insane compared to years past. Typically, a winter in Norfolk calls for maybe one to three inches of snow during the long, cold months, but in January of 2014 we got a whopping ten inches! While I’ve enjoyed taking the past week off of school because of it, I also can’t ignore the fact that this is in part due to global climate change. To make matters even more shocking, the temperature can range from seventy degrees (as it was Monday) to thirty degrees (as it was Monday night!) The drastic change in temperature can not be considered a good thing, and many fingers point to pollution as the biggest contributor to this phenomenon.
Our town of Ocean View was hit with a massive snowstorm (remember, this is massive in terms of people used to getting an inch of snow a year) on Tuesday afternoon, leaving ten inches of snow in its midst. Because of this, three days of school were canceled and half of the city of Norfolk had to be shut down. So far this year, this freezing temperature has been caused by what is known as the polar vortex. This vortex is a jet stream of the cold arctic air that has been shifted from the northern hemisphere and projected southward, which is why most of the U.S. has been experiencing odd climate changes, and perhaps the second coldest winter on record.
Not only is climate change making the warmer states cold but it is also heating some of the cooler regions up! Temperatures are expected to raise by 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 if greenhouse gases are not slowed down. Glaciers are being melted and snowy alps are becoming less and less snowy. Scientists and others experts measure and predict the sea level to rise by one inch every decade; however, at the rate that we are going now, that prediction will probably soon change to a higher number, considering the rate of global warming. A study found that with every degree in Fahrenheit that rises, sea level is expected to rise 4.2 feet. Cities will soon be underwater because of this, cities such as Miami, New York, New Orleans, Boston, Virginia Beach! Half, if not all, of the East Coast is predicted to become part of the Atlantic Ocean by the end of the century if we do not start looking at the facts. Not to mention the population increase in some of the other states across out nation, and across the world, if these cities do go under and its citizens are forced to move. Not only does this effect the United States, but also cities such as ShangHai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and London could cease to exist in eighty years time. Miami, being the most vulnerable of all cities, not only in the U.S., but worldwide, is destined to become a 21st century Atlantis within the next one hundred years.
Yes, the winter is freezing cold at the moment, colder than a lot of previous winters, so shouldn’t that mean that this should be called ‘Global Cooling’? No, because the warming is of the ice caps. As the ice caps in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres melt down it begins to spread out toward the rest of the world, flooding entire cities and regions. Carbon Dioxide, which is emitted into the air via fossil fuels and other various pollutants, is a major cause of climate change, seeing as these gases become trapped in the atmosphere and melts the ice caps, changing the temperature everywhere and causing climates to become unnaturally unstable. Take Ocean View for instance, right now we are all driving around in about five inches of snow and slush, and on Sunday the temperature is expected to rise from the low twenties to the sixties, and in turn melt all of the snow. Who knows, perhaps we’ll be underwater by the end of the week.
Places such as the Alps have been warming at three times the global average. Island nations such as Kiribati have rendered its lands uninhabitable due to climate change. The Great Barrier reef has lost 10 percent of itself within the last twenty years due to the oceans ability to absorb much of the pollutants expelled by human interaction with the environment. Many sea creatures have been affected by this, and many of them are dying. Not only is it global warming killing the waterways, but also other forms of pollution such as plastic bags and jagged glass can seriously injure or even kill an animal not only in the ocean, but anywhere.
Take the BP oil spill, which killed much wildlife in 2010, and even took the lives of 11 people. Pollution comes in all shapes and sizes, and if we do not act upon it soon, there may not be a world left to live in by the time our grandchildren our born – if our grandchildren are born.
There are safer options out there if you are worried about energy efficiency. Solar and wind power work just as well as, if not better than, nuclear power and other means of electricity. Fossil fuels can be replaced with vegetable oils and electric vehicles. Water can even be used as a source of power. You can even make a difference in your own bedroom by converting to organic bedding products that have not been soaked in petroleum and other harmful chemicals and preservatives. We all have the opportunity to change the world one step at a time, so why not take those steps in order to better the world, and to better ourselves.