Recently sudden climate changes have hit Korea. According to the meteorologists, the top five strongest storms in the last 130 years happened all after the year 2000, including the last typhoon, Kompasu. Not only are the storms an issue, but also the heavy snow in April and extreme high temperatures during the summer. What is going on here? According to the Meteorological Department, 88% of the days during the summer were hotter than the average and were the highest recorded the since 1978. Furthermore, 24 days in August, it rained. Is this the same as previous years?
The answer is...No! The summer temperatures have been unbelievably going up and the regional heavy rains are occurring more often. There has been a change in the climate, however every year it seems to be getting worse and worse. Moreover, it is not only just our problem; it belongs to the whole world. Beijing reached as high as 40.6 degrees Celsius, which was the highest temperature in over 60 years! Meanwhile the southern and central provinces of China went through disastrous floods and landslides since May 2010.
According to Wikipedia, “By early August, over 12 million people had been evacuated, and that number rose to 15.2 million by August 31.” Similar floods hit Pakistan, killing approximately 2,000 people this summer. The United Nations reports state, “More than 21 million people are injured or homeless as a result of the flooding, exceeding the combined total of individuals affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. At one point, approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was underwater due to the flooding.” Let’s go further into the northern hemisphere where Russia declared a state of emergency due to a heat wave and forest fires.
Also, Belgium and other European countries suffered from a heat wave which killed 500 people. On the other hand, the southern hemisphere was distressed with an intense cold weather pattern. It was cold enough to freeze 500 penguins to death in South Africa.(http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Cold-kills-500-penguins-20100615). According to this article, the thermometer hit -20 degrees. What is the problem? And what is causing all this?
Some experts point to El Nino and La Nina for the major cause of this abnormal climate, which are assumed to be the results of global warming. Meanwhile others saying that this time is a period of moving onto the next era and it has nothing to do with what human beings have done to nature. However, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report forecasted the climate change by global warming and set up the hypothesis with simulation, it tends to give the global warming theory more credibility. Then what are El Nino and La Nina?
Let’s go back to the abnormal climate and global warming issues. These days, thanks to the effort made by many environmentalists, most people know what causes global warming. Above us many greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2) occupying 88% of all the greenhouse gases, is the main dilemma. Once CO2 is emitted, it is either mostly absorbed by green plants or goes up into the air flow. The CO2 which stays bottom of stratosphere traps the radiant energy, directly heating up the earth.
Then, we might wonder what is wrong with it being a little warmer since we all like warm spring weather rather than cold winters? When our planet holds more heat than it is supposed to have, it melts the ice on the “Polar Ice Caps.” This will result in the sea level rising while some land areas will disappear under the water. In addition, the many different species of animal living on the Ice Caps are going to lose their habitat and potentially become extinct. Is that all that is going to happen? No, it is just the start. As sea temperatures rise, stronger tornados and hurricanes like Katrina may appear because the storms absorb more energy from the warmer sea water.
Strong storms often bring huge floods, and floods in one area may indicate drought in some other areas. Because of global warming desertification is going on as well. These cause changes in animal and plant’s habitats, causing them to die or forcing them to leave. Consequently, if the temperature rises by 1 degree, 30% of creatures on earth will have to suffer from the threat of extinction. Needless to say, nature cannot be separated and is all organic. Surely it is not easy to explain everything with a simple word, but there is evidence that it is happening right now. What’s our chances?
To cope with global warming issues, some countries make arrangements about the environment or make new environmental policies. For example, the Japanese government plan that is in effect is called the, “Eco-Point” system. The system is designed to promote a ‘green environment’ and if consumers buy environment friendly electronics that are more energy efficiency than a 2 rating, they can purchase products ten percent cheaper. Essentially, the Japanese government has created this system to stimulate consumers into buying more eco-friendly products. Moreover, many Japanese consider this policy when they make a purchase. It was estimated that the Japanese administration invested three trillion for this plan and household’s expenditures has increased to ten trillion.
The Korean government has implemented a carbon point policy similar to the “Eco-Point” system in Japan. This policy induces Koreans to directly participate in greenhouse gas reduction activity. Many groups for example, household, commerce facilities, and enterprises are provided with incentives from local governments because they reduce greenhouse gases voluntarily to help prevent effects of climate change. If you turn your carbon points over to carbon cash, you can use the cash back when you buy things at participating stores. Now that you do care for the environment and you also save money, it is like killing two birds with one stone. So far, I have explained policies on how individuals act to protect and think about environment. To join carbon point policy, visit the closest government office or visit http://www.cpoint.or.kr/ for more information.
It is true that Global Warming happens these days because of the mass production of many products. However, until when did we ascribe environment problems to just the manufacturing companies? Have you ever thrown away your garbage walking on the street? If you carelessly dump trash, some children maybe follow your act of littering. Indiscreet acts like this makes the entire nation’s morality decreased, moreover it causes damage to the environment. Glacier that bigger than Australia is melting every day. The climate change in Korea is more dramatic that temperature is going up 3 times faster of average of world. The University of Seoul students should feel a responsibility as a living creature of the earth. There are many methods for university students to protect the environment.
In conclusion, while watching the movie Avatar, some of you might be moved by the Navijok who were in love and cared for the environment. So maybe most of movie viewers would rage after watching scenes where humans destroy nature and kill others for profit. However, on second thought, why don’t we reflect on ourselves as we are destroying the environment, just without any weapons? In another documentary that showing melting of the glaciers, a polar bear was dying because this animal had no glacier to rest in the middle of swimming. In United States, Colorado University’s National Snow Ice Data Center (NSIDC) predicts that glaciers will be gone forever in 2030.
Over the last thirty years, about twenty percent of the glacier has melted. And these days a bigger size of glacier than Australia is melting every day. As ice disappears, more polar bears and penguins will die from drowning. We all should be aware every movement we make is all affecting the ecosystem, because we also belong to it. According to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), there are at least 100 million of species living on earth, and human-being is only one of them.
Once we mess up with nature, we all know it is hardly restored. When we waste tissue and toilet paper, a tree might be being cut to make up our consumptions. In other words, each step we take for a little more comfort could kill something...something even we don’t know. But indeed, is not a matter of life and death that is only limited to animals? Sudden climate change is not just a matter of hot and cold. It brought a lot of damages to whole world, but people expect it will be getting worse and worse. Global warming is not just ‘warming.’ Now it is a ‘WARNING!’
See the picture above. Normally a trade wind blows to the West, carrying a huge volume of surface water with it. As warm water is removed (since warm water weighs less and cold water weight more) cold water comes up from down below. This water is nutrient-rich, and keeps the ecosystem working. On the other hand, near the West Coast, warm water evaporates and becomes rainfall. The rain, of course, helps grow the crops and this is how the normal ocean system works. Furthermore, when a trade wind is not strong enough to push the water to the west, the cold water remains below.
So countries on east side get the rainfall, not the West. This is called El Nino, which means ‘a boy’ in Spanish, especially indicating Jesus because El Nino frequently occurs near Christmas time. On the other hand, La Nina has stronger trade winds than normal, which takes too much water to the West, causing floods in the West and droughts in the East. El Nino also explains why this spring was unusually cold. Because El Nino accelerates the ice on North Pole to melt down faster, so the cold fluid went down to Korea. The effects of El Nino jumps everywhere and is not limited to the Pacific. More importantly, because nature is so complex that it cannot be explained only with El Nino.
REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOT PRINT
One of the easiest ways to prevent environmental pollution is to separate garbage and not to use disposal products. Human-made-chemical does not easily break down in nature. Once it gets disposed, it takes more than 100 years to return to natural substance. That’s why we separate garbage and recycle. We can reduce 188kg of CO2 by separating garbage and it also helps the system to run more smoothly. Due to disposal trash, an island that full of trash had been built. It is 14 times of Korea peninsula and getting bigger!
Lower the Temperature
Although the lecture is finished and there were not any students in the class, did you see the air conditioner running? If so...take the time to turn it off, every little bit that we can do adds up over time! As the weather gets chilly, heating will replace the air conditioner. If we lower the heat by just one degree, we can cut back 231 kg of CO2. Just a little effort over time can save enormous amounts of energy. When it is cold, dress in layers of clothing indoors and save energy.
Reduce Shower Time
Lalala…This is humming during your shower once you have finished a long day. Whenever we wash our body with warm water, the shower time may continue to long. However, if you are person who thinks environmentally, you will try to save water. There are six steps-water abstractions as cohesion, precipitation, filtration, disinfection and water supply, only to make a drop of tap water. To provide clean water, this process is inescapable. More water is waiting to be filtered, more CO2 is emitted.
Reduce Opening and Closing the Refrigerator Door
Every time we eat, we have to open and close the refrigerator door to take out food. Although new fridge models are equipped with eco-friendly gas, many households still use the old ones. The older refrigerator emits freon gas and it contributes to ozone destruction. Once the ozone layer is destroyed, it increases the risk of the skin cancer. A simple living technique to reduce opening the fridge is to put containers on a tray and keep them in a freezer. When you need food, you can pull out all containers together.