- 1. Identify natural and human-made causes of climate change visible in the computer simulation. According to the computer model, how have sources of heat-trapping pollution changed from 1750 to today? How does the simulation predict they will change by 2050?
Natural causes of climate change within the model are livestock (cows) producing methane gas. Human-made causes that can be seen are deforestation for crops, homes, and businesses. Pollution from cars and planes releases CO2 into the air and the use of electricity to run the homes and businesses creates greenhouse gases. From 1775 till today, cars and planes have been created and contribute to green house gas production. The population has increase and more crops and homes have been built. Oil drilling and the creation of factories and power plants have also been added to our world since 1775. The module predicts that our population will double and there will be even more greenhouse gases being trapped by our ozone layer.
- 2. According to the computer model and your readings, which source(s) of heat-trapping pollution contribute the most to climate change? Explain.
According to the model and other readings, carbon dioxide contributes the most pollution resulting in climate change. CO2 has always been in the atmosphere naturally to allow for some heat to be reflected, but with the creation of cars, planes and other fossil fuel reliant items, such as electricity, the amount of CO2 produced has increased and its reflecting for sunlight back onto earth and releasing less. Deforestation also has contributed to the CO2 increase. When trees are burned, the carbon they store within them is released. The more CO2 released allows for more CO2 to become trapped in the ozone allowing more heat reflection, increasing temperature.
- 3. Recalling your observations from the three time periods, how has the thickening blanket of heat-trapping pollution affected Earth’s temperature between 1750 and today? How will the blanket and Earth’s temperature look in 2050? Does the simulation predict that positive feedbacks will kick in by 2050 (e.g., does the temperature increase appear to be accelerating)? According to your readings, what might explain positive feedbacks?
The increasing blanket of heat-trapping pollution increased with each time period on the model. In 1775 it was miniature, however, during our current time period it practically doubles and in 2050 it almost doubles again.
- 4. Briefly describe three impacts of climate change on ecosystems and biodiversity. Cite examples from course readings.
The onset of Climate Change may encourage certain insects, plants and some other life forms to thrive into a new ecosystem increasing interdependence and biodiversity within. Many small mammals are coming out of hibernation and breeding earlier in the year than they did several decades ago, while others are expanding their ranges to higher altitudes. Some show trends toward larger body sizes, probably due to increasing food availability and higher temperatures. On the other hand, reproductive success in polar bears has declined due to melting Arctic sea ice. Birds are an important part of many functioning ecosystems because of their roles in seed dispersal, pollination, and as both predator and prey. Scientists have observed that birds are breeding and laying their eggs earlier and that migratory species have altered their wintering and/or critical stopover habitats. For example, warmer springs have led to earlier nesting for 28 migrating bird species on the east coast of the U.S.
-Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. 2004: Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, United Kingdom.
- 5. Briefly describe three impacts of climate change on people – e.g., economic, health, safety, national security. Cite examples from course readings.
Human beings are exposed to climate change through changing weather patterns (temperature, precipitation, sea-level rise and more frequent extreme events) and indirectly through changes in water, air and food quality. Climate change was estimated to have been responsible for 3% of malaria and 3.8% of dengue fever deaths worldwide in 2004. Total attributable mortality was about 0.2% of deaths in 2004; of these, 85% were child deaths. Climate change via global warming produces stronger storms such as hurricanes. As a result, it costs millions of dollars to restore cities, towns, and states that were affected by hurricanes.
- Gore, Al. An Inconvenient Truth. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2006.
- Knauer, Kelly, Ed. Global Warming: The Causes, the Perils, the Solutions. New York: Time Inc., 2007.