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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SEA Change: The perils of global warming

Published: March 26, 2010
Section: Opinions

The world is at a turning point, celebrating its greatest accomplishments while facing its greatest peril. As the world’s factories, cars and power plants continue emitting hazardous greenhouse gases at alarming rates, the earth is getting warmer. The scientific consensus is the effects of global warming will continue to worsen unless we take immediate action.

The phenomenon known as “global warming” is mostly caused by emissions of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane. Although some of the mechanisms of global warming are complex, the basic idea is that human actions influence the earth’s climate. Deforestation and the combustion of fossil fuels, for example, allow the proliferation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing the planet to warm. The bottom line is that human activity is largely responsible for climate change, posing dire ramifications for our lives and the wellness of the earth.

The symptoms of climate change, like extreme weather, rise in temperature and sea level, extinction of animal species and the depletion of fresh water all threaten to fundamentally change the way we live our lives. Thankfully, though humanity is the problem, we are also the solution. Just as the industrialization of the human race has driven us to the brink of disaster, human ingenuity has proposed both complex and simple solutions to global warming.

For instance, an article published by Time Magazine titled, “The global warming survival guide” proposed many simple ways to save our planet.

To reduce automotive emissions, we must have fewer and more efficient cars on the highways. Starting a carpool is a simple yet effective way to reduce carbon emissions, especially when catalyzed by government incentives and legislation. Another easy way to reduce carbon emissions via transportation is through using public transportation like the subway, rail and bus systems. Turning off all electronics, like lights or computers when you are not using them also saves large amounts of energy and reduces carbon emissions. Hang-drying your clothes instead of putting them through a drying machine, is another perfect example of where a little effort can help fight climate change. Trading standard light bulbs for compact florescent light bulbs, although more costly, will also help save energy. During a trip to the supermarket, bring your own bag instead of taking home plastic, which will most likely end up in a landfill.

Individual actions might seem insignificant, but their cumulative impact may well be our most effective weapon against global warming.