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The Issue of Global Climate Change
"There's one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and this is the urgent threat of a changing climate." - Barack Obama

Greenhouse gas emissions have increased greatly, by about 45%, since the start of the Industrial Revolution. This increase in greenhouse gases is causing and will continue to cause catastrophic damage to our planet if we, as a society, do not take action to ensure sustainable practices are used around the world. 

But what exactly does global climate change mean and what does it have to do with you?

To begin, the topics of global warming and global climate change tend to be used interchangeably but they explain different things. Explained well by Caitlyn Kennedy and Rebecca Lindsey of Climate.gov “Global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, while climate change includes warming and the side effects of warming - like melting glaciers, heavier rain storms, or more frequent drought.”
You may not see these things everyday but they are happening. To name an example of something that has recently happened in the Pacific Northwest, according to the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, in 2015, the run of Sockeye Salmon from Red Fish Lake which took place in the lower mainstream of the Columbia River and tributaries failed due to increased water temperatures in the Lower Granite Dam and Bonneville. No Sockeye survived as the water temperature exceeded 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). This has been proven to be due to the changing climate surrounding the Columbia River. 
Trends like these and others mentioned above are largely due to the rapidly increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are the gases in that atmosphere that make Earth habitable such as carbon dioxide. Without them, our planet would be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit cooler (about 15.56 degrees Celsius). Oppositely, with too many of those gases in our atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature can increase to the point where life will no longer be able to survive on the planet. According to National Geographic, 75% of people could face deadly heat waves by 2100 unless carbon emissions plummet. In addition, those temperature increases will result in increased sea levels with a projected 1 to 4 feet rise in sea level predicted by the year 2100. 
In large part, this increase in greenhouse gases is due to humans. More specifically, scientist’s believe it is human’s use of fossil fuels in the global west that contributes most to global climate change. This figure being that 60% of all carbon-dioxide emissions come from people living in developed countries. Greenhouse gas emissions have increased 45% since the start of the Industrial Revolution and scientists have found that the temperature increase of the Earth in that time closely corresponds to the increase of greenhouse gas in our planet’s atmosphere. 

Humans are largely responsible for creating the trends of global warming and global climate change; therefore, we need to take responsibility for the damage we have caused to the planet and look for opportunities to prevent further damage. Good news: there are already so many opportunities available for you that can having a lasting, positive impact on the environment. For instance, there are many technologies you can personally be using which create less pollution such as hybrid, biodiesel, and fuel-cell cars. In addition, solar panels can be used to power homes and offices with no harmful pollution. These examples are just a few of the many ways we can all be contributing to reducing carbon emissions globally. So, the question is: what can you be doing to reduce your impact on the environment?

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