The following blog post was written by guest blogger Claire Seigworth. Claire graduated with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in Spanish Literature from Marquette University. She has traveled to many Latin American countries, studied in Santiago, Chile and worked in Panama for Global Brigades.
Recently the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change released its report summarizing the scientific investigations about climate change during the past six years. This report was so distressing to one meteorologist that he vowed to never fly on a plane again in an effort to reduce his carbon footprint.
Major headlines announced the increased certainty of scientists worldwide that climate change is in fact caused by human activity. In 2001, scientists were 66 percent certain that climate change is man-made, and now they are 95 percent sure that this is the case. In fact, the authors and contributors to the report state that they are 90 percent sure that the past three decades are the warmest years in the past 800 years.
The effects of global warming go beyond a rise in global temperature, melting glaciers, and rising sea-levels. The report also includes links between an increased amount of extreme weather and global warming. It is important to note that one cannot attribute a single weather event, such as a hurricane, to global warming. However, after analyzing patterns over time links between extreme weather and climate change become apparent. The report states that, “Climate change will probably increase storm intensity and size simultaneously, resulting in a significant intensification of storm surges.”
The IPCC’s reporting on the past six years of climate change science is still a work in progress. Three more reports will be released, including one about possible solutions to reducing carbon emissions. In the meantime, people can take steps to reduce their environmental impact. First, people can use this carbon calculator http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/ind-calculator.html to monitor and find ways to reduce carbon emissions. Secondly, people can participate in environmentally friendly groups and advocate for programs in their community to create a larger impact. While this is a global problem, everyone can contribute in ways to protect the planet.