2008 – Sixth Grade Second Place:

Zachary O'Connor, New York.

Is global warming the greatest challenge facing humankind?

     Global warming is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind
today. When one hears the phrase "global warming" what normally comes
to mind is warmer winters but global warming is far more than warmer

      The term global warming refers to an unnatural and accelertated
increase in the earth's temperature. Global warming is also called
the "greenhouse effect". The earth's atmoshpere is made up of gases
which have a protective effect of maintaining normal temperatures.
The atmosphere, which is primarily made up of gases that are able to
regulate the effect of the sun's rays so that about 70% is absorbed by
the earth and the remaining 30% is reflected back into space. The
increase in temperatures is mostly due to the release of heat trapping,

gases primarily carbon dioxide and methane. Almost all of these are

byproducts of human commerce and activity. Car emissions, raising

livestock, producing industrial chemicals and even deforestation add

more of these chemicals to our air throwing off the natural balance of

our atmosphere.

      Global warming could cause food shortages, contaminated water,
extreme weather, melting of polar ice, flooding and deadly heat,
threatening the animal and plant life on earth. One of the most
dangerous threats we face from global warming is the spread of
disease. Famine in sub-Saharan Africa and the resultant starvation
and mass migration on millions of people is a graphic example. The
extreme weather systems experienced on all continents and the rise in
sea levels are other examples of global warming changes to natural
climatic patterns that impact everyone in their environment.

      Yes, global warming is one of the greatest problems facing humankind.
The interdependence oh all human life causes us not to have the
luxury of ignoring what happens on another continent or region. There
is need for a global response. This involves both prevention and
research. Seeking to find cleaner and more renewable forms of energy
is the big challenge. Nations have to lower their dependence and use
of fossil fuels. Reducing electricity and fuel usage are two
important steps. Lowering consumption is not easy for our culture.
However, if governments cannot restrict consumption then we will only
make the earth unlivable. on the other hand, finding cleaner sources
of energy, such as solar, wind, and hydro power, is needed along with
developing newer fuel cells used in batteries and using nuclear power.
Changing new power sources will impact the economic system, requiring
nations to expensively work at cleaning up the planet and finding
alternate sources. The question is whether we will take the action to
do what is right.





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