2008 — Most Philosophical 7th Grader in America:
Karra Puccia, New York.
Is global warming the greatest challenge facing humankind?
Global warming is the greatest challenge facing humankind. It has occurred naturally throughout history of the Earth, but it was not until recently that human interference began. Today human intervention continues to affect global warming. There are many predictions about the future effects of global warming on Earth. Throughout history, global warming has escalated to become the greatest challenge facing humankind.
In 1827 Jean-Baptiste Fourier theorized a process where solar energy was captured by the Earth’s atmosphere, increasing the Earth’s temperature. The ice ages and interglacial periods were results of this greenhouse effect. Up until the 1920s, the vague theories about global warming did not explain the catastrophic climate changes in history, until Milutin Milankovitch discovered that the Earth’s position in comparison to the sun could account for dramatic climate changes. However, by the late 18th century, humans began to burn larger amounts of coal, oil, and natural gases, releasing more carbon dioxide and water vapor into the atmosphere, and giving humans the potential to modify natural processes.
Today human activities influence global warming more then ever before. Organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund want to act as soon as possible to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, while most industrial organizations and the federal government think it is too early to act on greenhouse gas emissions. In America, to reduce global warming and meet the conditions of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty on climate change, the United States would have to reduce its emission levels by seven percent. This could result in a huge economic impact, with fired workers and raised prices for consumers. Some, like the State of California’s Air Resources Board, have ordered automobile makers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by thirty percent between 2009 and 2016. In the northeast United States, nine states have formed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the region’s electric power plants.
Global warming is our greatest challenge today and tomorrow. The 2006 Red List of Threatened Species, made by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, included new animas like polar bears and hippopotamuses, which have never made the list. Some species of sharks, plants, and freshwater fish have gone extinct because of a decline in freshwater quality. In the future, the rising temperature could cause the glaciers to melt, thereby raising the ocean level. It has been estimated that Tuvalu, a country of nine small islands, and others like it could
be completely submerged by 2100. Global warming could also cause a greater number of violent storms and significant changes in weather patterns.
Throughout history this natural process of global warming has morphed into our greatest challenge. Today, and for the last two hundred years, the possible effects of global warming have become more probable. This issue will continue to be problematic in the future and will never end, proving to be humankind’s greatest challenge.
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