The Hidden Effects of Global Warming
By: Christopher Cassetta

            Global Warming has become a pretty controversial topic over the past couple decades. There are people who argue its effects are very large, and also skeptics who think it has little to no impact on the planet. While there is evidence that provides proof for both sides of the argument, there are more and more scientific findings that show that the earth has changed significantly since humans began to civilize it. Instead of accepting this as an answer, I decided to do more research to understand exactly how the burning of fossil fuels affects our planet, and if the human footprint is as large as many believe it is.

Firstly, let’s talk about what fossil fuels are. Millions of years ago, plants and animals would die, and their remains would reach the ground. As they decomposed, soil and rock would accumulate over top of them, compressing them into the earth. This continued for many years. Eventually, the organisms would be compressed enough by the weight of earth on top of them, that they create a mass of material called peat. Eventually this peat is further compressed into coal. We dig up this coal and burn it to produce energy. If this is all natural then how does it affect the earth?

There are many different kinds of fuels that are available to humans. Ethanol, for instance. A renewable energy source derived from plants. However, no other easily accessible energy source produces as much energy as fossil fuels like coal and oil. Really, the actual burning of these fuels isn’t the problem. Burning coal or oil releases a couple of byproducts.  The carbon dioxide that is created from the reaction is the culprit behind global warming. As the CO2 enters the atmosphere, it traps heat. The earth’s temperatures are naturally regulated by amounts of carbon dioxide. Too little and the earth would get too cold, but too much, and it gets far too hot.

As you can see from this chart, the amount of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels has increased exponentially since we first started to use them. However, our atmosphere might not be the only victim. Increased CO2 has effects on many other parts of the earth. Studies have shown that it has a domino effect on oceans specifically. As glaciers melt from the increased heat, sea levels rise, which puts more pressure on the ocean floor, which increases volcanic activity. So in continuing to burn them, we destroy glacial habitat, increase temperatures, and may even increase the amount of volcanic eruptions/earthquakes.

Despite our efforts to gain awareness of the problem, the truth is that oil companies around the world have monopolized the industry. They simply have too much money to stop with the limited amount of support we have. As long as the demand for oil increases, the companies will continue to make and distribute it, and the earth will continue to deteriorate. The only way it will stop in my opinion, is if there is some sort of “wake up call” that shows the world just how devastating the outcome could be if we continue to burn them. And looking at the evidence, a catastrophe is waiting to happen in the near future.