Environment Future of Earth's Environment, Including Global Term Paper

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¶ … Environment [...] future of Earth's environment, including global warming, the bird flu and disease, and pollution. As with any argument or heated debate, there are two very different views regarding the Earth's environment and man's affect on it in the future. Many experts say they are "optimistic" about the future of the planet, and yet, others indicate optimism and misunderstanding may have created this affect in the first place. The environment is changing, that is clear, and the world may be facing a disaster of untold proportions.

Many people simply do not believe the changes in the Earth's climate, new diseases, pollution, and many other facets of the global environment have anything to do with man's activities. They maintain the Earth has survived climate change and catastrophic events in the past, and will continue to survive in the future.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Environment Future of Earth's Environment, Including Global Assignment

Many, many, environmental issues face the planet as the 21st century continues. Global warming is getting so much press these days that it seems to be the only issue facing the world. However, other issues, such as pollution, pandemics, and environmental disasters face the people of the world, and it seems that many of them are being downplayed or ignored. For example, just a year or so ago, bird flu was a huge item in the news, and people (and officials) worried the outbreak in Asia would spread quickly around the world and cause widespread suffering, death, and turn into a global pandemic. That has not occurred. The panic has subsided, and so has news coverage. As one reporter notes, "There are six WHO pandemic phases and we are currently at stage three. This is where there is human infection with the latest flu type, but no human-to human spread" (Hunter). In addition, the spread of the bird flu has not been as alarming as many scientists first predicted, indicating the strain may not be a virulent as first thought, or animals and people have more resistance to the flu than first believed. That does not indicate, however, that other diseases are not a danger to humans. As reporter Hunter notes, pandemics occur periodically, and have through time. In the 20th century, the Spanish Flu of 1918 to 1919, killed millions, and the Asian flu of 1957 killed a million people, while the Hong Kong flu of 1968 killed almost a million (Hunter). Today, we are not free from the threat of disease - even diseases that were previously thought to have been contained. That is indicated by the resurgence of malaria in many areas of the world, and the prevalence of the AIDS/HIV virus that has spread around the world as well. Today, most hospitals and health organizations are better equipped to handle a pandemic such as the Spanish flu epidemic, but a large-scale health problem could create a mass of other issues, from workforce reduction and production to transportation and school shutdowns and overcrowding at hospitals and clinics (Hunter). All of these things could alter lifestyles for a while, but the world would continue to operate, essentially. However, other issues facing the Earth are not so easily dismissed.

Pollution is another issue facing the globe, and while great strides have been made in some areas, it is still one of the most pressing problems the Earth must overcome to survive. Just about everyone remembers the horrific oil spill created when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound. However, pollution incidents like this keep on occurring, and they have lasting affects on the ecosystems of the region long after the pollution has been eliminated. As BBC News reports, there is staggering air pollution in Chinese metropolitan areas, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the Arctic, dioxins in seafood in Japan, a "dead zone" in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and extreme river pollution in Romania, to name just a few of the pollution issues facing the world (BBC News, 2004). There are many others. Coverage of these events peaks as the problem is dealt with, and often, the long lasting after affects are never discussed. However, the long lasting after affects are the most important issue facing the globe. Oil spills leave behind damage that takes decades (if ever) to disappear, and pollution in waterways can lead to the extinction of many species. For example, the POPs in the Arctic are causing reproductive issues in polar bears, and create immune system issues in other species (BBC News). Thus, pollution can lead to broken links in the food chain as well as loss of species and health issues. Controlling pollution must be a priority around the world, because continued pollution can change the face of where we live, what we eat, and how we live. As one writer notes, "Simultaneously, many educators have begun to direct their efforts toward revealing the 'web of life,' including the myriad connections that link the living and non-living aspects of nature" (Sampson). Thus, we are all connected on the planet, and it makes sense to protect ourselves, but our surroundings as well.

Perhaps the most contentious issue facing the planet is global warming and climate change. Many experts feel it does not exist, or will not affect the planet as drastically as many other scientists predict. One writer says, "So is dangerous rapid global warming merely the new conventional wisdom -- or a credible forecast of our climatic future? There's plenty of evidence for both positions, and I'll keep reporting the data and the controversy" (Bailey, 2004). Much evidence points to cycles such as the current warming trend occurring in the past. However, in the past, the human impact was far less than it is today, and the planet had not been altered by pollution and other factors nearly as much.

Much of the evidence indicates humans and their waste products are affecting the planet at an alarming rate, and the biggest culprit is greenhouse gases, which are caused by pollutants in the air. Another expert notes, "[I]t's exactly 24 years since Ronald Reagan axed the U.S. budget for exploring alternative fuels. This led to doubling our use of cheap coal, the worst of the fossil fuels. They're planning, under business as usual, to re-double coal burning by 2030 -- even though we can now see the high cost of low price" (Calvin). Fossil fuels are dirty fuels, and non-renewable as well, so they pollute as we use them and pollute as we find new sources of fuel, as well. Business, industry, and automobiles all contribute to the greenhouse gas effect, which is slowly raising the temperature of the planet, melting polar ice caps, and causing the demise or threatened demise of many species. Many experts believe the world has reached a tipping point, where the effects of global warming have reached critical mass, and there is no turning back. Writer Calvin continues, "Worse, tipping points can lead to irreversible demolition derbies. Should another big El Nino occur and last twice as long as in 1983 or 1998, the profound drought could burn down the rain forests in Southeast Asia and the Amazon -- and half of all species could go extinct, just within a year or two" (Calvin). The predictions are grim, and so is the outlook for the human race. The message from the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in France is even more damning. A reporter states, "The message to be taken home from the report is 'it's later than we think,' panel co-chair Susan Solomon of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Associated Press in an interview" (Borenstein, 2007). Thus, the tipping point is here, and we are almost at the edge of no return in the global warming catastrophe. The baby-boomers may not see the Earth's drastic changes in their lifetimes, but it seems certain that this generation and generations to come will see the changes, feel the affects, and perhaps even suffer the consequences. The IPCC report continues, "The panel predicted temperature rises of 1.1 to 6.4 Celsius by the year 2100. That was a wider range than in the 2001 report, although the panel also said its best estimate was rises of 1.8 to 4 C" (Borenstein, 2007). In less than one hundred years, the temperature rise could be catastrophic, which means the people of the Earth must react and react quickly if they want to stop the onslaught of global warming.

Many other experts decry the findings, and point to evidence that the Earth has withstood climate changes such as these, or even worse in the past. One says, "Since then, watching the rapidly advancing climate science from outside, I now think it possible that the climate will shift into a new stable state" (Blackmore). They base their opinions on past data, including the idea that all life evolved on the planet after a catastrophic event that wiped out the dinosaurs and created the DNA that would evolve into humankind (Blackmore). They cite data, evidence, and theory to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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