The Earth has been a very big issue lately. More specifically, global warming has been at the center of attention, causing heated debates throughout the world. There are believers and non-believers, and some inbetweeners. Everyone, on all sides, relies on evidence with respects to this debate. Those who support the fact that climate change is a real issue have an impressive amount of evidence supporting their beliefs, and those who do not support this theory have somehow come up with their own evidence. But the non-believers might have a hard time turning this recent discovery of evidence of global warming down.
Recently, I read a very interesting article online that described a huge area in the North Atlantic Ocean that had record cold temperatures this year. The combined ocean and air temperatures in this area between the months of January and August of 2015 had plummeted.
Typically, most people’s initial reactions to this news before reading further are going to be joyous, because it looks like their hard work in reducing, reusing, and recycling has finally paid off.
So, question: is global warming finally over?
…absolutely not. In fact, this is a result of the increase in temperatures all over the world.
It’s almost as if Earth has thrown us environmentalists a curve-ball. Not only does the Northern Atlantic Ocean look like it’s defying the global meltdown, but so do parts of Europe. This cooling of water and air temperatures above the ocean has actually kept temperatures average in countries such as Ireland, instead of increasing. This can be compared to certain parts of the United States, who have seen record hot summers.
So, why exactly is this happening? How is the increase in the average global temperature causing the North Atlantic to be colder than it ever has before?
It’s actually pretty simple. The increase in temperatures across the globe are causing Greenland to melt, which is located just north of the North Atlantic Ocean. The melting ice of Greenland is inserting an abundance of dense, cold freshwater into the North Atlantic. This, in turn, is slowing the AMOC, or the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, and that is then causing issues to occur in the larger Gulf Stream System. Normally, the salty, cold water sinks to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, thus allowing the warm water from the equator to be on top. But now that Greenland is melting, the cold freshwater is diluting the ocean water, and is slowing the ocean circulation. According to researchers, this drop in temperature will only be a short term event, but Greenland will continue to dilute the ocean waters and slow the AMOC, eventually changing the weather in the North Atlantic and some parts of Europe.
The big question is; how can we change this? To put it in short, living sustainably. Sustainability is the ability to continue a defined behavior indefinitely. Right now, we are not using Earth in a sustainable way. We’re stretching the Earth as far as it can go, and eventually, it’s going to snap. We’re clearing forests to develop farmland, and on these farms we’re using harmful fertilizers. Deforestation is allowing the atmosphere to consume more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, thus causing an increase in temperature. Also, people are being extremely wasteful in their energy use and their food disposal. Leaving lights on in the house all day not only makes your energy bill more expensive, but it prompts your energy providers, whether it be a coal powered plant or a nuclear power plant, to consume and make more unneeded energy. So, people should aim to turn off lights and other high energy consuming devices when they’re not using them. As for food, instead of putting food scraps in the garbage, people should put them in a compost. Food that decomposes in landfills does so in an anaerobic way, which releases large amounts of methane. But if your food decomposes by using oxygen in a compost, it will release carbon dioxide instead, a greenhouse gas that is less harmful than methane.
So, unfortunately, this cold spot in the Northern Atlantic is a result of global climate change and our careless actions. The slowing of the AMOC will affect our climate slightly, but don’t worry, New York and Boston won’t be accelerated into the next ice age like in the movie The Day After Tomorrow.
Written by Taylor Johaneman, ESLLC 2015-2016