by Nathan N '11

How to Save the World

My name is Nathan Nikolic and for my tenth grade personal project I chose the topic of global warming. In specific I created a plan to move the United States off of fossil fuels in 50 years. It took a lot of work and research, but on the upside I now know quite a bit about alternative energy and America’s consumption habits.
For those who are unaware of what global warming is or have some confusions to what it means, this article will clarify that. For those who are already informed about the topic, this article will provide more information and some tips on how you can reduce your impact on the environment.
Global warming describes the change in the earth’s climate and weather patterns. Since the beginning of the industrial age in the 19th century humans have been burning fossil fuels and emitting pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur, and methane into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are made from the liquefied remains of million year old organisms. The carbon stored within these fuels is released into the atmosphere when we burn things like coal and oil. This carbon bonds with the oxygen in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, along with the other chemicals released form an invisible blanket around the earth, trapping heat that would otherwise escape back into space. It is necessary to have some of these greenhouse gases in order to keep the earth’s temperature high enough to sustain life, but when there is too much in the atmosphere the world becomes exposed to severe climate change, which threatens the existence of us all.
As the temperature rises and land ice melts the ocean levels will rise. This rise ensures that the ocean will swallow up low altitude landmasses. Places such as Florida, Holland, and many parts of Asia could be underwater in 20 years if nothing is done to reverse this warming. Aside from simply causing ocean levels to rise, warming also destroys ecosystems and causes extinction. This is because certain plant species can only exist with very specific weather patterns. Because global warming changes ocean temperatures, weather patterns all over the world are thrown off. The loss of a single keystone plant species could be enough to offset an entire ecosystem.
These drastic consequences indicate that something is wrong. Fossil fuels were not meant to be burnt at this rate. Some say that the atmosphere is too big for humans to have any influence over it. But this is not true. We used to think that we could do anything to the oceans and that nothing would ever happen to them. Then we saw that fish started dying and that the oceans are not immune to our actions. In the same way we must now realize that this is also true in regards to the seas as with the atmosphere. We cannot dump infinite amounts of gases into the air without consequence. But we use fossil fuels to power our modern day lives, so how can we protect the planet and maintain our current life styles? We can’t.
has to change. Either we have to modify the way we live and the way we consume energy or we can resign ourselves to the fact that in a hundred years the world will be a very different place, that thousands of species of animals will be gone, that entire countries will be under water, and that life itself may become unsustainable. So how do we change? Of course the government must take action in the forms of tax exemptions and ordinances in order to encourage the development of alternative energies. But this alone won’t be enough; change comes from the people. We need to start making choices about the way we live to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Below is a list of things we, as individuals, can do to help. Keep in mind that not every suggestion prevents global warming. Some protect the environment for different reasons.
1) When you shop look for products that say “green,” “eco-friendly,” “natural,” or in cases of food, “organic.” This will not only help the environment, but these products are also healthier. They aren’t manufactured with dangerous chemicals that won’t decompose or that will leech into the water. But beware; some companies are guilty of “green-washing,” which means that they lie about having these products. Look for specifics on the products. If the information is vague, chances are the product isn’t really eco-friendly.
2) If you are in a position to buy a car, look at the fuel efficiency of the car. This will not only save you money in a bad economy, but it will help the environment by emitting fewer pollutants into the air. There are cars that get 40 mpg or better. Dealerships tend to hide them because they make more money off of SUVs and sports cars.
3) If you can, try to buy electricity for companies that support alternative energy such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric power. This may be difficult to do depending on where you live. However if you get electricity from Con-Edison, you can choose to pay slightly more for your electricity. These extra dollars go towards developing alternative energies.
4) Buy energy efficient products when possible. I realize that most of us are students and our parents buy the major appliances in our homes, so tell them about this! Explain how an energy efficient refrigerator will pay for itself in a year and a half. Tell them how an energy efficient washing machine can save over a thousand dollars in the long run.
5) Lastly, air conditioning uses a huge amount of energy. Be responsible and don’t blast it too much. You only really need air conditioning on days when the temperature is 85 or above. Other days use a fan. On days when air conditioning is a must, try not to turn it down below 75 degrees. All these things help to reduce carbon emissions, and most save you money as well.
For a list of more things you can do to help check out these sights.
I may have already mentioned a few of them. Remember, this is our planet, and its our responsibility to keep it healthy.


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