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The 21st Century Challenge

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The die has been cast, the gauntlet thrown, do we dare pick up the challenge or do we retreat to our safe haven of complacency? For too long we have ignored the warning signs of what we have done to our planet by our continued drilling, extracting, processing and consuming fossil fuel sources. Ever since the first Industrial Revolution mankind has been consumed with it's unquenchable thirst for energy sources that are known to be detrimental to every form of life on this planet and yet we continue our onslaught of destruction by not fully integrating alternate fuel sources that will have a beneficial impact on not only the environment but have a very profound and positive effect on humanity as well.

Many have thought that with this past winters onslaught of heavy snow and cold Global Warming was just a figment of imagination by even some notable legislators but when more and more Scientists from around the globe have all concluded that the extreme frigid weather that blanketed most of the Eastern half of the United States as well as in Europe was in fact fueled in part by planet-warming gases. Even those doubting Thomas's have to agree that just maybe man inadvertently has contributed to drastic weather conditions that are occurring all around the world today. It is these green house gasses that helped plow heat into the tropical western Pacific Ocean. When that happened it drove the jet stream further north toward the Arctic before it funneled cold, snowy weather all over the Midwest and East Coast.

Today, the sea surface temperatures in the western Pacific is the warmest it has ever been. It is in fact that these warm temperatures are consistent with the increasing number of strong tropical typhoons in the western Pacific. We also know for a fact that warm seas especially in the Atlantic have caused Hurricanes that have plummeted the coastal shores all along the Gulf Coast and the Eastern shores of the United States. In every instance when one of these hurricanes or tropical storms hit land have caused catastrophic damage. Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are just some instances where hurricanes have caused massive amounts of destruction with so many lives to be lost.

In addition to pounding the sea and land surface with wind and rain, typhoons, hurricanes, and other tropical storms also release energy into the upper atmosphere. This energy, in turn, creates the so-called Rossby waves in jet streams. It is these rivers of air that snake around the globe and produce weather patterns at the surface. The extra stormy weather in the tropical western Pacific generated extra-large waves in the Northern Hemisphere jet stream, positioning it to send cold weather down into the eastern United States. The connection between this past winters cold weather and climate change is even made stronger by the increasing temperatures in the waters of the pacific and the increasing number of storms caused by those temperature increases..

We have seen it before back in 1997-1998 when the El Nino effect that winter had such a build up of heat in the tropical western Pacific. During an El Nino effect the east to west trade winds reverse allowing warm waters from the Pacific to dissipate along the equator toward South America which influences weather patters all around the globe. We can see the effects today. Since the late 1990s, the east-to-west trade winds have gotten stronger and more persistent than normal. What this does is piling warm water up in the western Pacific. It is these winds that have blown excess heat generated by continued greenhouse gas that continues to warm the waters in the oceans. This interaction has all led to the devastating tropical cyclones and amplified the waves in the jet stream enough to account for this past winters record cold in the US and record weather in Great Britain and Europe. We are witnessing the after effects of what man has greatly influenced. The surface of the planet is changing more each year.

This past winters record cold, snow and rain was in fact attributed by the rapidly warming of the Arctic. We have seen the polar ice melt to unprecedented levels. From Greenland to Iceland what was once covered by a blanket of ice and snow is an open waterway straight to the North Pole. The Arctic is warming faster actually than the rest of the world. And when this is happening causes the northern polar jet stream to bring cold Arctic air further south which caused the past winter to be so harsh.

This is only the tip of the iceberg of the effects caused by man indifference by our continued assault on our planet by our use and consumption of fossil fuel. The impact of global warming is having a very profound effect not only on the worlds oceans but the effects of global warming today poses a very real sinister threat to the availability of the worlds food sources that come from the sea as well. This startling revelation that is about to unleash major devastation upon all living things happened some 250 million and some 20 million years ago. 20 million years ago the earth was ripe with volcanic activity all across the Globe.

The earth during the Tertiary Period was a lot different than today. It was during this period that the earth accumulated much acidity in the oceans of the world. This sharp increase in acidity was caused by increasing levels of carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere. The direct cause of all the acidity in the worlds oceans happened because the world was strewn with huge sustained volcanic eruptions which released huge amounts of co 2 into the atmosphere. This massive amount of co 2 created an ecological domino effect with sea life. In the ocean everything eats everything else so when the acid level rises the sea life that is affected the most is on the low end of the food chain like all organisms that have shells or skeletons made form calcium carbonate. This includes corals, mollusks, and many plankton. Acids dissolve carbonate and as pH levels in the worlds oceans drop these animals all have trouble maintaining their body parts and subsequently they die off. This is the biggest reason that during the Tertiary Period so many forms of sea life become extinct. Although sea life was most affected this sustained accumulation of co 2 in the atmosphere had very harmful affects on other life on the planet as well.

Nature is repeating itself with the help of mankind. Since the industrial revelation began the level of co 2 in the oceans have been steadily increasing. To fully understand the implications of the affects that cause acidity in the ocean we have to know what pH can do to the balance of life. On a pH scale, 7 is neutral, with 0 the most acidic and 14 the most basic. The historical pH of sea water is about 8.16, leaning on the basic side of the scale. While it doesn't seem like this is a problem, the pH of our oceans has fallen to 8.05 since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, a change greater in magnitude than any time in the 650,000 years before the Industrial Revolution. The pH scale is also logarithmic, so that slight change in pH results in a 30 percent increase in acidity. Another problem is that once the oceans get their "fill" of carbon dioxide, scientists think the oceans could become a carbon dioxide source, rather than a sink. This means the oceans will contribute to the global warming problem by adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Acidification has bee linked to the mass extinction of species like the Dinosaurs of some 250 million years ago. During the Jurassic Period when Dinosaurs ruled many noted scientists have long concluded that the earth was hit by some large meteor or comet in which the atmosphere exploded causing more co 2 into the atmosphere resulting in more acidity in the oceans when 90% of all marine life died and over 70% of species on land including the Dinosaurs perished.

A recent United Nations study reports that extreme caution be taken because of the increasing levels of co 2 in the atmosphere that is directly increasing the acidity of our oceans. Today, with over one billion people world wide relying on seafood as their primary source of protein, the acidification that is rising in our oceans poses a real eminent threat and a very clear present danger to the human food chain. The most obvious solution to this impending disaster is for nations to make drastic immediate cuts to anthropogenic co 2 emissions before the acidity levels reach a point of no return for marine life that will perish unless these drastic steps are not taken in reducing the enormous pollution that is caused by man's excessive use and burning of fossil fuels. Lowering our emissions will help the ocean acidification problem, even if that just slows the impacts long enough to give species time to adapt. Scientists have acted swiftly on this issue. The response has included the Monaco Declaration, in which 155 scientists from 26 countries declared in January 2009 that: Ocean acidification has become the next Armageddon type scare since co 2 isn’t producing significant warming.

The Monaco Declaration states that the pH levels in our oceans are changing 100 times faster than natural variability. This rapid rise is almost on the same parallel as the rise in acidity that occurred 20 million years ago. With each advancing year since the Industrial Revolution the amount of co 2 released in our atmosphere has increased the acidity in the world oceans to the point that all marine life is severely affected. If present conditions don't change by 2050 the marine organisms, food webs, bio diversity and fisheries could make all of the oceans most inhospitable to coral reefs with changes escalating more rapidly resulting in catastrophic consequences for all life forms as a result.

The biggest concern is will governments impose stricter regulations on energy utilities, auto manufactures, the oil conglomerates and every one else that uses fossil fuel for providing energy. To continue to only moderately reduce in our mass consumption of the burning of fossil fuel only accelerates the enormous devastation that will occur if we don't' start now with drastic measures in eliminating the need for fuel sources that generate co 2. With so much at stake the world can no longer wait and see if global warming is a figment of some individuals thinking. This is a very clear and present danger to all life on this planet. If mankind continues to deny the very fact that we have now contributed to the realization that all life is in serious jeopardy our world as we now no it will be no more. By our blatant disregard for the sanctity of life in continuing to burn fossil fuel with no real apparent will to change mankind is on a direct course toward extinction. Time is running out we have to act decisively. We have the technology, the resources, but the will to change that is the ultimate question and the ultimate challenge for the 21st century.

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