Recently, smiling students like myself enjoyed everything from snowballs to suntans. We all know anything is possible in D.C., but I would prefer to label this seemingly impossible weather combination as unnaturally dangerous steps toward a global warming disaster.
A primary reason for such a seemingly meteorological mystery is global warming. This phenomenon is the ongoing increase in the average surface temperature of our planet.
Any student in an introductory chemistry class can understand that although greenhouse gasses (e.g. carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor, ozone and chlorofluoro-carbons) may seem few in their percentage makeup of the Earth’s atmosphere, they are considerably dense. Consequently, these gasses trap the heat of the sun that is continually reflected off the surface of our planet.
Increased levels of carbon dioxide from smokestacks and cars are partially responsible for changes in surface temperature. The history behind these assertions speaks for itself.
In 1957, government-funded at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography indicated increased industrial activities released high levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And consequently, oceans were unable to fully contain it. In 1988, the federal government reexamined this curious finding. Appearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, NASA experts testified that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were higher than ever previously recorded. Our nation’s financial resources assisted the United Nations in creating the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Commitment by the United States continued when in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, our nation, guided by the first President George Bush along with 142 other world leaders pledged voluntary commitments to stabilizing the release of industrial carbon dioxide.
Also of notable importance is H.R. 1646, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act. This sweeping piece of legislation included language that recognizes “global climate change poses a significant threat to national security, the American economy, public health and welfare and the global environment.” This bill passed the House during the spring 2002 semester, and now makes its way to the Senate.
We must remind ourselves it is winter. We should be sipping hot chocolate, not margaritas. And we must remind our lawmakers that now is the time to pass a sensible energy package. Such legislation must recognize carbon dioxide, regardless of its origin, as a primary reason for the warming that has brought about such abnormal weather patterns everywhere.
-The writer, a freshman majoring in American studies, is a member of Free the Planet!