2008 – National 5th Place Award Winner:
Rex Gelb, Brooklandville, Maryland.
Is global warming the greatest challenge facing humankind?
Humankind faces challenges everyday. Matters that require immediate attention constantly threaten the species. There are numerous issues containing threatening effects, a high level of urgency, as well as an immense degree of difficulty. However, when considering these characteristics, humankind faces one problem that stands out over all others, global warming.
Global warming is humankind's greatest challenge because of it's dangerous effects. This predicament threatens our health, our safety, and much more. According to NASA, global warming greatly increases the risk of disease and radiation. Many scientists have suggested that there is a correlation between the spread of certain diseases and the rapid changes we are experiencing in our climate. Global warming is also threatening out safety. NOAA recently verified that global warming is causing the polar icecaps to melt due to weather extremes. When this occurs, cities will be flooded resulting in countless fatalities. It is also interesting to look at potential indirect causes of global warming. For example, when global warming starts to threaten large areas of the planet, civilians will naturally migrate to safer quarters. These massive migrations will likely cause war over land and its laws. In this day in age, war could easily lead to nuclear catastrophes.
Global warming is currently humankind's most immediate challenge as well. According to author Julia Whitty, if we continue to damage the environment, half of all species will be extinct by the end of the century. In fact, it is commonly agreed upon that global warming routinely kills people. The urgency of this issue is unlike anything humankind has ever seen. For example, take a difficult historical challenge such as woman's suffrage. In the early 1900s, woman did not have the right to vote. This immoral law was not ratified until 1920. Despite the difficulty and magnitude of this challenge, it was simply not immediate. If woman weren't granted the right to vote in 1920, they would have been in 1921, or maybe even 1950. However, unlike other challenges, if the general public does not adjust its behavior in the next ten years, it will be too late.
Finally, global warming is humankind's greatest challenge because of its difficult nature. The first step in solving any problem is accepting the fact it exists. Everyday on the news, there are ignorant authority figures attempting to mitigate the severity of global warming. However, global warming is simply not debatable. Our thermometers are rising and the ice caps are melting. Any scientist in the world can substantiate these incontrovertible pieces of evidence. Now, this ignorance would be acceptable if scientists knew how to fix the atmosphere. However, as far as we know, global warming is irreversible and our atmosphere is beyond repair. Consequently, when combining the ignorance of the people to the limited knowledge of our scientists, global warming is humankind's most difficult challenge.
It is important to acknowledge other great challenges facing humankind. Issues such as terrorism, poverty and racism are serious problems and should not be diminished. Nevertheless, none of these issues are comparable to the challenge of global warming. After all, if we don't solve global warming, the human race will be terminated and all other challenges will become obsolete.
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