Below are blog posts, posted by permission by students in the class. For many students, this assignment was their first time reading peer-reviewed scientific articles, and their first time trying their hand at science communication. 

| 2017

2017

Understanding Climate Change

            The general definition of ‘climate change’ is a change in global climate. Climate change involves a significant warming of the atmosphere (global warming) due to the excessive amounts of carbon dioxide that is released from fossil fuels, which are largely revolved around human activities.  There are many negative consequences to our irresponsible actions regarding fossil fuels, oils, and many other products that are hurtful to the environment.

            Most individuals don’t realize the abundance of harm we do to the environment through everyday tasks. One of the key aspects to global warming occurring at such high rates in the 21st Century is due to skyrocketing rates of carbon dioxide in the air and the oceans. Temperatures are rising each year and are at an all time high as of 2017. It is stated in NASA’s Global Climate Change article that CO2 levels have increased significantly since the start of the Industrial Revolution. “The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.” (NASA, 2017). In this article the authors also mention how most of the warming taking place has happened “within the last 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.” (NASA, 2017). It is a worldwide debate whether global warming is actually happening or not. Some people think that the Earth isn’t getting warmer at all, which is not the case. If this were the case, polar bears wouldn’t be dying, sea levels wouldn’t be rising, there would be more than 20% of coral reefs left in 2050 (NASA, 2017)., and we would live in a cleaner environment. Scientists predict that “the Earth will warm 2 to 6 degrees Celsius in the next century.” (Pryzborski, 2017). 

            Global warming is not something that Americans should look at carelessly. Humans are the reason the planet is getting too hot, the reason forests are smaller, the reason there is trash in the ocean… We have made our mark on the Earth and it is not a good one. In a video made by NASA, they attempt to show the audience that the Earth is like a water balloon. By taking a balloon and putting a lighter to it, they see that without the water, the balloon pops. But, if there is water in the balloon, the water absorbs all of the heat that is coming from the lighter before it can melt the rubber, thus representing the Earth’s oceans and greatly affected they are by global warming. The oceans absorb all of the heat from CO2 and other naturally emitted gases that release into the atmosphere. Because the gas layer is so thick, the gas gets trapped in the atmosphere instead of disappearing into space, and the oceans take in all of the gases which have been released, which in turn, is what is killing ocean animals, plant life, making the oceans significantly warmer, and melting the ice caps.

            It is our job to fix what we have done to the planet. As humans, we cannot keep going the rate we’re going with the factories and pollutants and smoke. The garbage and the abundance of CO2 that is coming from manmade resources, these are the reasons the Earth as we know it is overheating. If society is not willing to clean up the mess they’ve made, we will have to face even worse consequences than what we’ve seen already; more class five hurricanes, several more species going extinct, islands being completely submerged with rising sea levels, not to mention what was said earlier with the coral reefs, more trash in the oceans, the list goes on and on. As humans, it is our responsibility to take care of the place we call ‘home.’

“Climate change evidence: How do we know?” NASA, NASA, 10 Aug. 2017, climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.
Funk, Cary, and Brian Kennedy. “1. Public views on climate change and climate scientists.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 4 Oct. 2016, www.pewinternet.org/2016/10/04/public-views-on-climate-change-and-climate-scientists/.
Przyborski, Paul , and Charles Ichoku. “Global Warming : Feature Articles.” NASA, NASA, earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php.
Stoller-Conrad, Jessica , and Kyle Mansfield. NASA, NASA, climatekids.nasa.gov/ocean/.
 


Climate Change: The Evil Looming in the Shadows

By Tavyn Jorgensen

            Climate change is like a game of generational hot potato, with every pass exponentially raising them temperature of the ball. The idea that Earth’s climate is changing is a mostly accepted idea, but the debate typically tends to focus on whether humans are the cause of this change or not. In general most people believe that human activity on earth and carbon emissions are the root cause of this change. Another group of people believe humans have anything to do with this global change, yet they recognize that a change is happening. Then the final main group are the ones who deny it as a whole and do not believe the climate is changing. This creates for an interesting political conflict  around the issues resulting from climate change.

            The specifics of this topic directly relate to the acceleration of the rate of change of our climate. Almost all of science unanimously agrees that climate change is an issue and is a threat to our long term existence on this planet. There are hundreds of studies that suggest carbon emission is directly tied in with changing of the climate, like rising oceans and temperature. In  “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions” Susan Solimon says, “The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop.” (Solimon). This quote adequately sums up the issues with climate change and how big of a hole humanity has dug and will continue to dig day after day. The issues surrounding climate change tend to ignored due to the financial burden surrounded with moving away from unclean fossil fuel energies that produce carbon emissions. Progression towards clean energy directly opposes oil investments. Along with the fact that a large percentage of local U.S jobs are in dying due to the lack of use of dirty energy.

            Although studies show that fossil fuels are a direct causation to this issue, there is still an interesting political dynamic around the topic. Science has made it pretty clear “Modern climate change is dominated by human influences, which are now large enough to exceed the bounds of natural variability. The main source of global climate change is human-induced changes in atmospheric composition.” (Karl, 2003). Public perceptions of global warming have only contributed negatively to the debate. Even with factual information presented, like the example above, the public still trends to not get the message.

            The difficulty with this topic of climate change is solely an issue of importance. The lack of awareness has created a social environment that encourages ignorance because of climate changes nature to hide its harm. “That extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.” (Hansen, 2012). This is article talking about effects of climate change and a part of particular importance is its piece discussing the relation climate change has had to major disasters. This is an example of an obvious connection between climate change and real world consequences. Examples like these are important because the population would  consider it bias reporting and attack credibility of the article before taking in any information. If the general population is not ready to acknowledge the major red flags then how can the minor ones ever be observed. A good example we talked about in class is Oregon’s growing population due to the effects climate change has had on California’s water supply. That is a major economic and infrastructural issue that is never discussed publicly because of the fact denying, gag reaction that humans do when they hear a bit information they do not completely agree with. Yes that is an exaggeration on reality but to a degree it is true, the general population being more separated than ever has made even talking about his issue on the most basic level socially impossible.

The major issue with climate change is its awareness is hard to spread because the adverse effects are delayed and often distant from the people making the decisions that are directly affecting the change. Science communication is crucial for combatting this issue and helping educate people of these issues and why you should care about them too. Things like the dying coastlines of agriculture life in certain regions of the world not effecting the day to day lives of Oregonians is a major factor in why this communication is hard. Because it may seem that it is not an issue that relates to you but it does, its connection is difficult to understand without understanding complex economic and political relationships. Yet the point is still simple, without proper communication from the scientist writing the primary search research, ignorance will keep spreading.  To summarize, climate change is a major problem that could potentially plague human life and human existence. It is an issue that is delicate and should be handled and addressed immediately at the highest level of society. Continued lack of attention by humanity to this issue could lead to deadly unintended consequences.

Bibliography
Karl, Thomas R., and Kevin E. Trenberth. "Modern global climate change." science 302.5651 (2003): 1719-1723.
Hansen, James, Makiko Sato, and Reto Ruedy. "Perception of climate change." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109.37 (2012): E2415-E2423.

Solomon, Susan, et al. "Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions."      Proceedings of the national academy of sciences 106.6 (2009): 1704-1709.