Global warming affects Arkansas

Michael Ford
Managing Editor
Temperatures rising This chart provides a glimpse of rising temperatures over the last century (available online at http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/). Academy-award winner Leonardo DiCaprio's short movie on global warming (http://www.leonardodicaprio.org/) provides a visual representation of the problem.

   Many scientists acknowledge the authenticity of global warming. Consensus estimates predict an approximate increase in temperature of between 2 and 10 degrees in the next century, which could lead to a number of environmental complications.

   “Apparently, the climatologists have recorded increased global temperatures over the last few decades,” said Eric Sundell, professor of biology. “Temperatures are on the rise. Greenhouse gases generated by industry and motorized vehicles are also unquestionably on the rise and could certainly have played a major role in causing the temperature rise.”

   According to Environmental Entrepreneurs (http://www.e2.org/), scientific models indicate the climate change would result in a 25 percent increase of summer precipitation in Arkansas. Although an alternating climate may bring increased rain to the state, intense rainfall would lead to increased soil erosion and flooding, a particular problem for eastern farmlands – much of which sit on floodplains.

   “In my opinion, global warming is a real phenomenon that is leading to the decline of biodiversity on this planet, and if not corrected, will lead to serious problems in the near future,” said Russell Nordeen, professor of biology. “The cause of global warming appears to be mainly gas emissions from automobiles, although industrial gas emissions also apparently contribute.”

   John Hunt, a biology professor and ornithologist, said as the weather changes, it disrupts the migration patterns of birds.

   “Ducks and geese don’t head south as early in the year as they once did,” Hunt said. “This can cause problems with annual biological cycles of the birds, as well as for duck hunters.”

   The population of 16 different types of birds continues to shrink in Arkansas, according to the National Wildlife Organization (http://www.nwf.org/). Moreover, 31 different types completely disappeared.

Much above normal Only four states ranked higher in above-average temperatures than Arkansas between December 2004 and February 2005.

   According to Environmental Entrepreneurs, global warming affects Arkansas in several specific ways, including:

  • More frequent heat waves

  • Increased illness from insect-borne diseases

  • Intense rainfall causing soil erosion

  • Eastern farmlands at risk

   The Kyoto Protocol, which intends to reduce the air pollution responsible for global warming, recently became official – seven years after being agreed upon. 

   The ancient Japanese city of Kyoto hosted the main ceremony that celebrated the treaty’s authentication. Russia ratified the treaty in November 2004, making it legally binding.

   However, the world's top polluter, the United States, refused to sign the treaty.

   According to BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/), the United States said the changes would be too costly to introduce and that the agreement is flawed.

   Hunt said people can help fight global warming, by buying and driving clean-burning cars, driving less and asking politicians to support anti-climate change legislation and international treaties.   

   Nordeen expressed a similar solution.

    “The most important things we can do is to continue to monitor the situation, educate the lay population and find fuels that are cleaner burning or alternative sources of energy to reduce gas emissions,” he said.

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The Voice, 2005
Revised 050304 — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/2_14/global.htm