September 27, 2011 | Atlanta, GA
By Lauren Townsend, Contributing Writer, The Technique
Global warming: it’s a term that has people talking. Everyone from politicians to students knows of, or at least has heard of, recent climate changes thanks to popular coverage in the news.
The term was first coined in 1969, and Webster’s dictionary defines the term as: “an increase in the earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect resulting especially from pollution”. Some statists support the theory of global warming, and according to a study done by NASA, the global temperature has increased by approximately 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past 130 years.
But what does this mean?
Some scientists argue that the Earth is warming, and CO2 emissions from pollution have caused this significant increase. But scientists seem to disagree about the effects of global warming. Have the changes in climate caused the seemingly increase in storms and the intensity of storms?
Or is there actually a noticeable change in the intensity of storms?
Dr. Judith Curry, a professor here in the Earth and Atmospheric sciences department, is a specialist in climate change and other concentrations of earth and atmospheric sciences.
In a publication titled “Mixing Politics and Science in Testing the Hypothesis That Greenhouse Warming Is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity”, Curry argues that data stating that the earth has experienced a significant increase in hurricane activity is incorrect. According to Curry, the data of category-3 hurricanes cannot be distinguished from category 4 and 5 in the database and therefore solid conclusions cannot be drawn about an increase in the intensity of storms over recent years.
“There is no increase in global hurricanes, in fact since 2005 the number of global hurricanes has been quite low,” Curry said.
The question is, then, why have people become more aware and more concerned about the recent detrimental storms. For example, the hurricane that recently hit New York?
“The major atmosphere and ocean circulations for the past few years are quite similar to what we saw in the 1950’s, which also saw many land falling hurricanes, major droughts in Texas, and numerous floods. Sometimes I think we have weather amnesia, in terms of thinking that the recent weather is somehow drastic or exceptional,” Curry said.
However, evidence still suggests the fact that the earth has increased in temperature over the last few decades.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the release of carbon emission has caused the increase in global temperatures across the planet.
In fact, according to NASA, the ppm (or parts per million) concentration of mid-troposphere carbon dioxide has increased by a value of about 22 ppm from 2002 to 2010. What can we do to stop the pollution of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere or protect our nation from future weather hazards?
“Reducing air pollution and carbon dioxide through use of cleaner energy sources will have some effect on the climate, although exactly what kind of an effect remains uncertain. A better focus is to work to reduce our vulnerability to extreme weather events, by not building on flood plains, better building codes, and better infrastructure for our water resources,” Curry said.
Though the causes and effects of climate change remain highly debated, it is important for each of us to contribute individually to stop the increase in pollution.