Friday, November 2, 2012

Climate Changes, Weather and Catastrophe

Questions Answered by the 8th grade student Zoe Bertol-Foell

How does climate change effect weather?
In a simple phrase, climate change increases temperature. This increase is a result of the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is when long wavelength radiation gets trapped in the atmosphere causing the increase in temperature. A classic example of this is when the interior of a car gets heated on a sunny day.  As humans over the years have been burning more fossil fuels, more carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide is strongly absorbent and it doesn’t allow much heat to escape into space. Since 1970, the overall temperature of the surface of the ocean has increased by one degree Fahrenheit. One degree Fahrenheit may not seem like much but it can cause deep concern. Increased temperature results in fast evaporation which causes more precipitation. Ironically, it can also lead to droughts in some areas because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water.

Has hurricane Sandy been effected by climate changes? 
Hurricane Sandy was the largest storm that New York City has ever recorded.  She had left thousands of New Yorkers devastated without power or shelter and she even took away lives of children and families. Cost estimates are predicted to be 20 billion dollars in damage. Hurricanes thrive on heat unlike tornadoes. A warmer ocean means more energy for a more powerful hurricane. As much of 10 percent of Sandy’s energy could have been a result of global warming.

What is the carbon footprint?
Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide that humans or man-made objects leave in the atmosphere. Vehicles that use more fossil fuels such as planes and trucks leave a bigger carbon footprint. Humans should try to limit their carbon footprint as much as possible. They can do so by a number of easy steps such as; carpooling, taking public transportation, or bicycling. If you live in New York City, a great way to reduce your footprint is to start commuting by subway. Since subways function off of electricity mostly, it leaves a very small carbon footprint compared to cars and planes.

What can be done by government?
 The government could help by supporting renewable energy generation. With proper funding, America could build windmills and solar panals to replace coal which produces high amounts of carbon dioxide. New York City has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint by eliminating all non-hybrid taxis. A law was recently passed that prohibited cars from idling near school grounds for more then one minute. Big companies such as Wal-Mart can also help by designing their buildings to let in more sunlight so they could use less electricity during the day.

What can be done at individual level? 
One individual can not change global warming but if many communities participate, we together can take simple easy actions to try to reduce global warming as much as possible. A great way to help is to reduce your carbon footprint by changing your ways of transportation as mentioned before. There are also many ways you can help out at home. Get into the habit of turning off a light when not needed or turning off the faucet while brushing teeth. When you aren’t charging your phone or laptop, unplug the charger and always try to buy energy star appliances.