Why do we care?
The Kyoto Protocol is an attempt to control and limit the amount of carbon
dioxide, a greenhouse gas, entering the atmosphere. As you can see
in this table,
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have been increasing in the atmosphere
for quite some time. A greenhouse gas is one that traps heat into
the atmosphere around the Earth. This heat then reflects back down
to the Earth instead of harmlessly going off into space. This process
is called the Greenhouse Effect and has been predicted to cause something
called "Global Climate Change."
Global Climate Change affects everyone on the planet. If global temperatures
rise, as they are predicted to do, temperate zones will become warmer,
tropical zones will become unbearable, arctic zones will melt, ocean levels
will rise, the ocean current could stop - plunging Europe into an ice age,
storms will increase and intensify, food will become scarce, and people
will die. This scenario, as "doomsday"-scare-tactic as it sounds,
is a distinct possibility for the future.
The future, whatever it turns out to be like, must include a way to live
sustainabily on the Earth and with each other. We must overcome the
differences of opinion of what is important and realize that we are all
trying to reach the same goal: a healthy and happy life.
Our future and that of our planet are not one in the same. Human
beings cannot exist without the Earth but the Earth itself can exist quite
well without humans. The question of how soon the Earth could recover
without additional pollution is still unanswered. The recooperative
powers of the planet are amazing, but not instantaneous. This is
why we need to try to help our planet remain hospitable to our race.
As anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss once said, "The world began without
man, and it will complete itself without him."
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