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Global Warming: Fact

In comparing and contrasting critical evidence and events as portrayed in An Inconvenient Truth, The Day After Tomorrow, and Field Notes on a Catastrophe, the fact that global warming is, and if unregulated will continue to take a devastating toll on earth in the form of climate change has become alarmingly clear. In this paper I will show (X) global warming is a critical issue requiring immediate attention by (Y) suggesting that we as individual Americans need to actively address this inevitably disastrous cycle (Z) in efforts to provide a sustainable environmental policy for the health of future generations. (Premise 1) In large, global climate change is real and devastating. (Premise 2) Economically, it is advantageous for us as Americans to initiate green technology as we use our role of superpower to set prescient for the rest of the modern world. (Premise 3) Even though the current administration has neglected this issue in the form of comprehensive legislation, addressing global climate change is happening from a grass roots approach and is proving itself as a viable approach.

The Facts of Global Warming
Josh Schollmeyer states it best when he concludes the media bombards us with speculative doomsday scenarios that lack both analysis and context. This statement adequately applies to the film The Day After Tomorrow as this docudrama creates a series of plausible effects resulting from the impact of global warming while neglecting an accurate time frame, as these events would take a minimum of several decades to occur (The Day). In addition to the inaccurate time analysis, the film is simply an element of Hollywood. As Schollmeyer continues, “Those who see Hollywood as a medium for political change will learn that popular culture can only do so much – especially when the government still has not quite worked out the story line? (Schollmeyer, 268-69).
With docudramas aside, factual science can still be derived from the media as Al Gore, in his presentation of An Inconvenient Truth, demonstrates the relationship of carbon dioxide emissions to temperature by showing charts illustrating the close fit of the two lines when graphed chronologically side by side. This comprehensive analysis reveals that we have and are continuing to emit carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Recent emissions are higher than ever before; correspondingly, the ten hottest years on record have occurred in the last fourteen years. (An Inconvenient).
In Elizabeth Kolbert’s book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, she highlights the evidence of the current warming patterns. A measure of the temperature of earth’s atmosphere by analysis of frozen atmospheric particles found in glaciers reveals the earth’s current temperature to be equal if not greater than it has ever been in the last 420,000 years (Kolbert, 129). This increase in temperature is closely linked to the increasing amount of greenhouse gas emitted into our atmosphere.
Warming Effects on Climate
With evidence the earth is in fact increasing in temperature, it is important to highlight the climatic implications of this increase. Al Gore continues in his presentation to explain that as the global temperature increases, various effects alter the climate in various locations of the globe. At the poles, global warming causes the rapid melting of glacial ice. This rapid melt results in not only dramatically reduced oceanic coastlines, but also alters the oceanic currents. When the cool, dense glacial water falls to the bottom of the ocean, it likely will disrupt oceanic currents prohibiting earth’s natural mechanism of temperature distribution (An Inconvenient).
Kolbert adds to Gore’s analysis suggesting as the temperature increases on land, either fatal droughts or colossal rainfall result. This analysis is used to assist in explaining the devastating effects of oceanic storms such as Hurricane Katrina; as the temperature increases, wind and moisture also increase. The laws of the foundation of science defend this analysis as a law of physics states that when a molecule increases in temperature it expands, applying to the rising water levels and moisture content in many recent storms (Kolbert, 125).

Present Day Catastrophes
With greenhouse gases emitted in massive amounts over the last 50 years, it is no wonder effects of global warming are visible in nearly every region of our planet today.
One such region, the Netherlands, faces serious threats in the near future as its’ citizens are currently implementing makeshift technology to survive the irregularity of today. She states, “Fully a quarter of the Netherlands lies below sea level…another quarter, while slightly higher, is still low enough that, in the natural course of events, it would regularly be flooded? (Kolbert, 123). Although they have adopted floating houses to cope with the levels of today, it is highly unlikely their system of dikes and floating homes will support the increasingly extreme weather patterns.
Lake Chad, a water source for many Africans, is one of many locations affected by global warming. Al Gore presented a time lapsed image of the lake over the last several years, showing the lack has evaporated to a mere fraction of its original size (An Inconvenient).
From a glacial perspective, Gore continued to show many photographs of the disappearing glaciers from the Arctic to the Andes. His photographs showed stunning images of glacial boundaries of today, in comparison with the previous, extremely larger boundaries of the glaciers from only decades past (An Inconvenient). In addition to increasing temperatures impacting glaciers, India has also suffered severe consequences of global warming as record temperatures of 122oF claimed the lives of over 1,400 people (An Inconvenient).

Economic Potential
When reflecting on international issues such as global climate change, it gives the impression of a costly issue so large, it would be impractical for the developed world to consider resolving such an issue. One of the key reasons the United States decided not to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which requests for emission reductions in the developed world, was due to the financial nature of such changes. Kolbert mentions an argument in which an expert suggested if American companies place restrictions on emissions, while China and India do not, American Companies would be at a serious economic disadvantage (Kolbert, 156). Contrary to this belief, the research and implementation of green technology in the United States would actually create jobs, thus increasing wealth, and in-turn furthers the growth of the American Economy. Howie Hawkins, Burlington’s Mayor and green technology supporter, concluded that what America does, China and others in the developing world will soon do. When the United States embraces clean-up technology, the market starts to drive down the price, and thus others will surely benefit (Kolbert, 182).
Green technology is not only needed in arenas of transportation and production, but also needs to be directed toward daily events as simple as food consumption. The article Connecting The Diner Plate to Global Warming advocates that lowering meat consumption would in fact decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The author of this article mentions that the meat producing industry emits more greenhouse gasses than all forms of transportation combined (Deutsch, 1). Having stated the above conclusion from a United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization report, it becomes clear we need to address the issue of global climate change from a variety of approaches.
In all, doing the right thing creates jobs and wealth as it advances us as a whole foreword.

No Federal Policy, No Problem
While the US has contributed more to advancement of climate science, both theoretically and experimentally; Elizabeth Kolbert states we are also the key purveyor of skeptics (Kolbert, 163). As the largest single producer of greenhouse gasses, the United States is responsible for nearly 25% of the global total (Kolbert, 150). It is this alarming rate of production, resulting from economic activity, which creates disturbance at the national level. According to Al Gore, the United States and Australia are the only countries not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol (An Inconvenient). In addition to this federal neglect, in June of 2005 The New York Times revealed Philip Cooney, a White House Official, repeatedly edited government reports on climate change to make the findings less alarming (Kolbert, 166). With dishonest information circling those who reference climate documents when making legislative decisions, it is no wonder the current federal policy is lacking. When criticized on matters dealing with neglect to global climate change, Paula Dobrinski, the current Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, stated the following, “We see this as a serious issue. We have vigorously and robustly put forth a climate change policy to address these issues…basically and fundamentally we have a common goal (as the Kyoto Protocol), but we are pursuing different approaches? (Kolbert, 152).
With a federal government turning a deaf ear toward the issue, city mayors such as Mr. Hawkins of Burlington, Vermont, decided it was their responsibility to step in. After modeling his city after programs originated in Minneapolis, Hawkins has created a significant impact on the local community. Among several projects, Burlington Electric aids in the cause as it gets nearly half of its energy from renewable sources including a 50-megawatt power plant operating off of wood chips. Even more surprising, over 170 mayors representing over 36 million people pledged to strive to meet the Kyoto Protocol in their communities (Kolbert, 175). With support from the very people who contribute to the emissions, the current path of global warming could be altered.

Global warming causes extreme climate change, so extreme that it in fact proves to be a viable threat to the existence of man. In this article I outline specific facts, effects, and threats global warming places on our planet. It is not only our job, but to our advantage to address this issue. As the key contributor to the problem, it is justly our responsibility to deliver a comprehensive solution. With little federal support on climate policy suggesting a nation of ignorance, it is our power as individual consumers to lead the attack. We have learned in the past that obstacles provide us with the opportunity to improve our current condition. By addressing global warming, we will not only be furthering ourselves economically, but also be doing the right thing. Americans have led the world in the research of this global challenge, and thus should lead the world in its solvency.

Works Cited
An Inconvenient Truth. Dir Davis Guggenheim. Perf Al Gore. Lawrence Bender, 2006.
Deutsch, Claudia H. “Connecting The Dinner Plate To Global Warming? The New York Times. 29 Aug 2007. 1-3.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. “Field Notes From A Catastrophe? New York: Bloomsbury Press,
Schollmeyer, Josh. “Lights, Camera, Armageddon? The Best American Science and Nature Writing. Ed. Brian Greene. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006. 259-269.
The Day After Tomorrow. Dir Roland Emmerich. Emmerich & Gordon, 2004.

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