"The science of global warming is quite literal. Energy from sunlight enters the atmosphere and heats the Earth. A naturally functioning Earth would keep only the necessary amount of energy needed to warm the globe and then send the extra energy back into space. Our poorly functioning system actually traps the extra energy in the Earth’s atmosphere and causes it to heat up to abnormal temperatures.

The layer of Earth’s atmosphere that should allow energy to be released back into space is being thickened by human-induced carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The environment naturally produces gases that are helpful in trapping energy to warm the Earth, but human consumption of fossil fuels and deforestation have sent carbon dioxide levels to dangerous heights. Other gases such as methane and nitrous oxide are also beneficial in keeping Earth’s temperatures normal, but human activity has raised the atmosphere’s normal concentration. Methane is produced from landfills, livestock farming, fossil fuel burning, wastewater treatment and other industrial activities. Fertilizers, fossil fuel and forest burning and crop residues cause increased nitrous oxide levels.

Greenhouse gases such as sulfur hexafluoride and PFCs (produced from aluminum smelting, semiconductor manufacturing and electrical grids for city lights) and HFCs (substitutes for CFCs) are not naturally produced.

Problems caused by global warming include stronger storm systems (hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, etc.), an increase and decrease in precipitation in unsuspecting geographic areas, loss of soil moisture and agricultural production, melting of glaciers which help cool the Earth, mass species extinctions, dead zones in the oceans which cause algae bloods and red tide and the spread of new disease as well as old disease that was once under control.

Skeptics who don’t believe these problems are enough evidence to support global warming argue that the current warming is a result of cyclical fluctuations that have taken place throughout Earth’s geologic history. However, past temperatures are nowhere near the highs that are being recorded today. Even more evidence supporting global warming shows that over the last 650,000 years, carbon dioxide levels have not exceeded 300 parts per million; within the next 45 years, levels are expected to soar to 600 ppm as long as the state of human consumption remains the same.

To learn more about how you can help locally, make plans to attend the Hoosier Environmental Council’s Inaugural State Council Conference on June 17 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Guest speaker William J. Weida will present information from his research done on factory farming. To register or to find out more information go to www.hecweb.org or contact Tricia O’Neil at 317-685-8800 or toneil@hecweb.org.

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