Picture Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
One of the first executive orders that President Joe Biden signed when he entered the White House in January was to rejoin the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on fighting climate change. The prior administration had withdrawn the U.S. from the agreement.
Climate change refers to weather pattern changes throughout the Earth primarily caused by fossil fuels and greenhouse gases which are emitted into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels generally include coal, crude oils, and natural gas. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, water vapor, and nitrous oxide. Fossil fuels and greenhouse gases can cause a long-term change in temperature.
Although climate change has been happening for hundreds of thousands of years, it is now accelerating at a rapid and dangerous pace and causing extreme weather that threatens the health and safety of our planet and all living things. Scientists have studied the effects of climate change through satellite images in space. The amount of carbon dioxide we have in our atmosphere has increased by 250 times the amount in the previous Ice Age.
As the planet’s temperature rises, our oceans absorb 90 percent of the heat that radiates from the atmosphere, which causes the warming in the water and disrupts the ecosystems within the sea.
Ice and glaciers are melting in the Arctic and in the south near Antarctica. According to the New York Times, a 2018 study showed that the global sea level rise is 4.5 millimeters every year, and this amount increases by one tenth of a millimeter every year. By the end of the century, the sea level will have risen by 65 centimeters which is 25 inches or roughly two feet. The melting of Greenland and Antarctica alone could raise sea levels throughout the world by 220 feet and cause a lot of flooding everywhere.
Additionally, Antarctica has a lot of permafrost, which is frozen soil that has a lot of built up and dead vegetation. This creates a huge amount of carbon, which, if thawed, could create twice as much carbon in the atmosphere as is currently. This may be released into the atmosphere, causing more climate change and may be melted if the glaciers melt.
President Biden is serious about his commitment to fighting climate change. “We are at an inflection point in history,” Biden said in his first address to the joint Congress last month. “If we act to save the planet, we can create millions of jobs and economic growth and opportunity.”