Macomb Audubon Society

The Greenhouse Effect
by Karen McNeill
Environmental and Conservation Chairperson

This past fall I read a very interesting book by Gale E. Christianson called "Greenhouse." The book began with the start of the Industrial Revolution. All of the men responsible for the inventions of machinery to do jobs better and faster. On ways coal was mined to better and faster ways to mine it and use it. The book goes on to explain the discovery of oil fields in America, its uses for machinery, building bigger and taller smokestacks in Europe and America. The use of oil in the development of the automobile and the bigger and faster ways we built the automobile. The book explained the effects of all this to the surrounding environment, just when you were beginning to wonder what all these men and their inventions had to do with the Greenhouse effect.

Mr. Christianson then goes on to talk about the scientists and discoverers of the climate change. To the man who found the hole in the ozone in the Antarctic to the scientist who discovered the way to measure carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and that it was on the rise on earth at a rate faster than any other time. He talks about the Kyoto Treaty and the meetings and governments involved. He explains some of the ways to possibility counteract some of the effects and he also talks about the scientists who still do not believe in any global warming.

Since other countries via the Kyoto Agreement, the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and countless environmental and non-environmental magazines and periodicals are talking about global climate change and the Greenhouse Effect, it is a subject that is hard to ignore.

With the loss of rainforest, not to mention in our own area the loss of forested land for development, the CO2 in our atmosphere, thanks to the use of coal and oil, (fossil fuels), is growing at an alarming rate. Our global temperature has already risen by 1% and even 18% in some regions. The rainforests and forested lands themselves are not limitless in the amount of CO2 they can store, with any unstored amounts going into the atmosphere. With more acres of trees being felled yearly for development and agriculture this leaves less trees to absorb the CO2. When there are fires in the rainforests in South America, Asia or even our own land this releases all the CO2 stored by the trees back into the atmosphere.

The climate predictions are for more droughts, warmer temperatures, more severe weather and Hurricanes. There are climate changes we can already see. In the melting of the Arctic Ice Shields to even in our own area. We have more severe droughts in summer with occasional downpours of rain, milder winters with less snow and earlier springs. The mild weather may even play a factor in the lowering of the Great Lakes water levels. With less snowfall - what we do get is lake effect snow which when this snow melts does not all melt back into the lake. The Great Lakes normally have about a 1% evaporation rate and when water is taken from them for snow and rain on land the evaporation rate is higher and little of the water goes back into replenishing them.

Not only can loss of habitat be blamed for some animal, bird and plant extinctions but they will also be affected by the rising temperatures. Not being able to stand or live with the higher temperatures in the environment, the disease rates will be higher and undesirable species can move in and take over the natural desirable speciesí habitats.

All of this sounds pretty glum. There are many things environmental groups are doing by making sure that the undesirable species do not take over habitats, or by planning ahead to salvage what they can in specific regions. There are many ways we too can make our lives more energy efficient. From our homes to cars, recycling, planting native species and our very habits.

The U.S. Senate and House of representatives did not lower the car manufacturers emission standards to the Kyoto Agreement standards because of fear of loss of jobs and keeping the automakers a viable industry. Since the voting down of emission standards as low as the Kyoto Agreement Standards the automakers have since and are laying off workers, buying out workers and closing factories.

We can continue our efforts to preserve rainforests and forested land and continue our efforts to be energy efficient, although, we will not lower the CO2 already in the atmosphere or its tangible effects on the environment and climate. We must also learn to deal with and help our environment adapt to the inevitable climate changes on the way.

The following are several web-sites to check out about polices. And more information on global climate changes:

Nature Conservancy www.nature.org/international/specialinitiatives/climate.com
Intergovernmental Panel on climate change www.ipcc.ch
U.S. Global Change Research Program www.usgcrp.gov
Sierra Club www.sierraclub.com
Union of Concerned Scientists. www.ucsua.org
United States Department of Energy www.doe.gov
United States Department of Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov
Washington Post www.washingtonpost.com
World Climate Report www.nhes.com
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources www.eren.doe
Environmental Defense Fund www.cr/.com
George C. Marshall Institute www.marshall.org
Global Change Master Directory: http://gemd.gsfac.nasa.gov

Thank you.

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