The Global Warming Riddle (1/2)

by Tilen Kodrin on 20th April, 2016 at 6:48 PM CEST

When I started writing this article, I was laying in my bad in Buckhannon, West Virginia. It was a beautiful Saturday morning on April 9th, 2016. The birds were singing, the flowers were blossoming, and the children were playing baseball, right under my window. What can I say, a true spring idyll… Hmm, wait a minute: that somehow doesn’t sound right. Did I miss anything? Oh yes, I remember now! When I woke up that day, and unveiled the curtains from the window, I stared outside in disbelief, for the sight I saw shivered every single bone in my body. From the ground, to the rooftops and trees, everything was covered in white. Not to mention the blizzard still throwing snowballs all over the place! Let me repeat myself again, it was the April 9th!  In that moment I have decided, I have to write something to at least try to remind people that this bizarre experience isn’t some coincidence or prank, made by nature, but instead it is most likely caused by a much more dangerous phenomenon, created by us, “humans”.

       So why did it snow that day, when on every other “normal” day in April, we should be wearing shorts and a T-shirt? My guess is Global warming and Earth pollution. This are a very well-known problems that are gradually getting more and more attention, in the last 20 years. Global warming is the gradual heating of Earth's surface, oceans and atmosphere, caused by humans polluting the air and surface of the Earth (Bradford). Because of the greenhouse gasses, humans release into the air, the average temperatures on Earth are slowly rising.  The increasing global temperature is causing sea levels to rise, glaciers are melting and there is an increase of intense and unusual weather extremes. Some parts of Earth are getting hotter than they should be, but at the same time others are getting cooler because of the cold water flow, coming from the melted ice on the North and South Pole. This could be the reason why we, in Buckhannon, had to wear gloves and scarfs this far into the spring.

        Environmental scientist Julienne Stroeve explains: “In the 1980s, the Arctic contained roughly two million square kilometers of ice that was determined to be at least five years old. Today, at the end of the melt-season in September only 57,000 square kilometers of such older, thicker ice remains. With record low sea-ice extents year after year, it became clear that a significant warming trend was underway.”(Shulman) We see concerned scientists like Stroeve, expressing their theories of doom about this weather changing events every so often, but it never produces any tangible results among people, looking on a worldwide scale. Most people still do not care for even the smallest gestures, they could do, to show they care about our planet’s future. This includes leaving the light on, even when they don’t need it, or drive with a car to destinations within a walking distance. Warren Washington senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), who devoted his life to creating increasingly precise and accurate computer models of Earth's climate, and advisor to every president of America since Jimmy Carter, says that what people need to understand is that these are no more untested models scientists have dreamed up. They are based on actual meteorological data and known physics of the atmosphere and oceans. He is also emphasizing: “We have spent many years refining the models by comparing them with observed data." (Shulman) That means, data supporting this theory certainly exists and is indisputably telling us “we” are doing something wrong, and “we” have to change!

      But even though it seems like we have all the hard evidence we need, the problem remains. How to get people to accept them and start reacting? The approach environmentalists have taken till now seems to be not very prudent. With their researches and information, they are targeting people who watch news and read newspapers. That scoops up the middle and older aged classes of population. But as many researches show, it is very hard to change a habit, when you were doing it for 30, 40, 50 years, or even longer. A recent Pew Research Center (an organization that provides information on demographic trends across the U.S. and the world) survey found that despite irrefutable evidence and agreement between scientists about global warming, roughly four-in-ten American adults see climate changes as a global threat. Even less of them think it is the humans who caused them (Hall). So isn’t it a bit pointless to try to pour fear into this people, and just hope for a magical change in their behavior, and comprehending of this conceptions. The damage here has already been done and is scarcely fixable.

      On the other hand what promises much better results is to teach students and children, not what should be done instead of having this “bad habits” we have now, but rather educate them about how to treat our planet, recycling, trying to be energy-saving, when they are still young and in process of constructing their own attitude. We should be teaching them, about this mindset, in schools already since kindergarten, as ONLY way of living on this planet. It is much easier to be raised with this kind of attitude, than to make a significant transition in your way of living and effecting all areas of your life. Just think for example is it easier for a kid to play with Legos, when he/she doesn’t know what iPad offers, or is it better to show him or her the iPad, and then take it away, saying: “this is bad for your eyes and brain.” This technique of conditioning someone’s mind is called the Theory of Second-order decisions described in detail by Barry Schwartz, in his book “The Paradox of Choice.”

       According to the research conducted in 2012 by Dr. Ayam Victor Singh, from Rajiv Gandhi University, where he researched the environmental awareness of global warming and pollution among Faculties and students of different discipline, the most environmentally aware of global warming effects are students coming from different departments of school of Science (Physical Sciences-78.6%, Life Sciences 77.3%), and after them are faculties of Economics, Management & Information Sciences (69.6%). The concerning part is that the least awareness on global warming was found among faculties of Humanities (50%) and faculties of Technology (Mechanical engineer- 48%.) That means that not even half of the students, who will most likely be dealing with a lot of environmentally unfriendly materials, substances and other things in their life, even know the basics about what consequences this things can have on Earth and our lives.

       That’s why it is even more important to try and make kids understand, when they are starting to develop their behavioral patterns, how to act, in the sense of “environment friendly” behavior.  If we sum up what they say on Eschooltoday.com, one among very few internet sites trying to educate elementary school kids about global warming problems: “There are many, very easy, steps for youth to do, and with them, significantly help to lower the CO2 emissions or energy use.” For example: Get yourself and encourage your family to go to school, work, and market on a bus rather than with family’s car. Walk or ride a bike and not only help environment, but yourself as well. Recycling, reducing the use of things and re-using things is also a brilliant attitude for us to acquire. When we recycle cans, bottles, plastic and paper, we send less trash to a landfill. Not to mention that it also helps to save natural resources such as trees, oil and aluminum.

In a perfect world another thing we could do, as they say on Eschooltody.com: “A good way to solve the problem may be from our government and legislature level to regulate these big companies that cause most of Earth’s pollution. We can get our leaders to make laws that discourage activities that have a high carbon footprint.’’ But unfortunately the sad truth is that many of our leaders have been a bit disappointing. That means it is on us to do our bit! Isn’t it more realistic to expect the changes made by leaders that learned about climate changes from the times when they were still kids or young adults, and so are much more passionate about really looking into making it happen? This is why it is so important that we need to collaborate with each other, and teach the youth how to not repeat mistakes made by their ancestors. As Jack Hall said in the movie The Day After Tomorrow: “Mankind survived the last ice age. We're certainly capable of surviving this changes as well. All depends on whether or not we're able to learn from our mistakes?”


Author: Tilen Kodrin 

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Stefan Alievikj

Stefan Alievikj | C:F staff

Great read on the occasion of upcoming Earth Day 2016! Looking forward to the second part of this great read.

Thank you for sharing Tilen!

21st April, 2016 @ 12:24 PM CEST

Muhammad Ali Ali

Muhammad Ali Ali

Dear Tilen Kodrin.

Its really amazing writing by you.

27th April, 2016 @ 7:25 PM CEST

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