Climate change, also known as global warming, is described as a change in climate patterns caused by excess atmospheric carbon dioxide. How humans factor into this has grown into a large debate over the past decades.
On April 17, Marshfield students attended a lecture on this topic. It was presented by former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. He addressed what climate change is, what is happening and how to stop it.
“The most basic understanding of climate change is that the atmosphere around the earth is being thickened continuously by the amount of carbon dioxide that we, as a modernized society, not just the United States, but all over the world, are putting into the atmosphere,” Bradbury said.
Bradbury said this isn’t happening in a small, natural way. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are rising exponentially.
“We put 110 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every 24 hours,” Bradbury said.
In his presentation, Bradbury discussed different ways that climate change and global warming affect our world. According to Bradbury, it is causing major problems that involve weather.
“There are a whole series of things that have happened as a result of the increase in temperature,” Bradbury said. “One of the most significant is the increase in warmth evaporates more water into the atmosphere and that leads to massive rain storms, hurricanes, huge amounts of water.”
According to Bradbury, the increase in water build up in rain clouds is causing the amount of extreme weather events to grow.
“The number of extreme weather events around the globe has tripled since 1980. It’s all because of this fundamental change in the Earth’s atmosphere, which is trapping more heat and causing all kinds of problems, whether it be exceptional rain or exceptional drought,” Bradbury said.
According to Bradbury, there are many ways to fix this problem. With alternative and renewable energy sources, a real difference can be made.
“We have to stop burning fossil fuels and start getting our energy from the sun and the wind,” Bradbury said. “It’s a combination of a whole series of actions that each of us as individuals can take, along with critically important societal actions.”
Bradbury said the change must be made by the next generation because they are the ones who will have to deal with the effects of climate change the most.
“The reality is the generation that is currently in high school are the people that are going to have to really make this change, to keep this place such a wonderful place to live,” Bradbury said.