On a typical day in New York City, traffic is rampant. Cars zoom by the streets, leaving huge amounts of gas trailing as they pass. Buses pass by, fogging up the air, and trains stop every few minutes. Children play in parks, inhaling the intoxicating, harmful air of the carbon plants nearby. Is the city crying out for help or is this just the process of modernism? New York City is one of the many cities in our planet reportedly faced with global warming, a controversial issue introducing the idea that the planet is warming up due to the release of greenhouse gases. Many scientists claim that people are not aware of their direct involvement in harming their environment and the potential effects global warming could have on their futures, however, the claim is subject to debate as there are many who deny its existence.
Global warming is the idea that the Earth is warming up due to the release of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases create the “greenhouse effect,” which occurs when those gases trap heat into the Earth’s atmosphere. Global warming, also known as climate change, causes glaciers to melt, sea levels to rise, precipitation patterns to shift, and wildlife scrambling to keep up with the changes (nationalgeographic.com). People directly contribute to this change through the burning of fossil fuels and the use of modern technology. Since the industrial revolution, it is claimed that humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than a third. According to the EIA, the U.S Energy Information Administration, research has been conducted examining the amount of fossil fuels we burn, the carbon dioxide we emit, and how the numbers are higher than they have ever been.
New York City is the epitome of pollution. Most people are not aware that the effects of global warming may be closer than expected. As reported by the Department of Environmental Conservation, the annual average temperature throughout New York State has risen about 2.4 degree Fahrenheit since 1970, while sea levels have risen more than a foot since 1900. In the event of a natural disaster, storm surges are expected to be higher and more powerful. Changes in climate not only affect the environment, but they also impose health risks for the people. With warmer weather emerging, pollen production is predicted to increase, resulting in more cases of asthma, allergies, and certain other respiratory conditions. Changed climate favors the survival of disease carrying insects, spreading illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease (dec.ny.gov/energy). However, according to a Scientific American article on global warming, there are as many skeptics as there are supporters. This issue has been going on for so long that even in 2009, 800 skeptics reportedly assembled and took part in an annual International Conference on Climate Change. Many justify the change in temperature as part of a natural cycle. Scientists have not yet identified real reasoning behind the change in temperature and whether or not it is actually caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
After showing a couple volunteers a video from a modified camera capturing carbon emissions from cars and buses and some reported statistics, students responded with interest and concern. A student from the Academy of American Studies, Ermina Dervisevic, shared, “This is crazy, I never knew global warming was this serious. Our carbon dioxide levels are are way higher today than at any point since the earlier days.” She went on to explain how serious the changes in our planet can become and how to save it. Ms. Greenspan, a science teacher at American Studies, responded, “Warming and cooling of the earth occurs in natural cycles but it is undeniable that now warming is occurring faster and more intensely than ever before. I have no doubt that this is a human induced phenomenon. As I am not personally a weather scientist, I do defer to the top experts in the field. I defer to science, fact, and the scientific process.”
By understanding the effects of global warming on our cities and planet, people can be inspired to make changes. It is never too late to advocate for making a difference. You can begin by speaking up and sharing information with people around you. Especially, in this generation where everything is centered around technology, social media can be used as an advantage to share knowledge. Simple actions like pulling the plug on your electrical appliances when they are not being charged or used can reduce the output of 50 large U.S plants. Being energy efficient by buying 10-watt LED lights can actually save you money throughout the year. Many take it a step further by investing in fuel-efficient vehicles which could actually save you money on gas. Homes can be upgraded with energy-efficient appliances, proven to keep 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the air (www.nrdc.org). Whether or not global warming is proven to be legitimate, such actions are beneficial to the environment anyway. It is good for people to save energy and take care of the planet to reserve resources. Our top priority should be taking care of our home planet.