“Always do what's right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” - Mark Twain

Aquinas College

Global Climate Change

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Data from Safe Climate, 2000

Scientists generally accept that global climate change is occurring on the earth today, due only partially to the greenhouse effect. The Greenhouse Effect results in warmer temperatures on earth as greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere trap incoming and outgoing solar radiation and reflect it back to the earth. The Effect is not fundamentally a climatic problem, as it occurs naturally and maintains the comfortable temperature we require. The main contributors to the greenhouse effect are CO2 and water vapor, however there are some other potent culprits, including:

As the number of GHG in the atmosphere increase through fossil fuel combustion and other sources, the amount of energy reflected back to the ground increases. Historically, this warming of the earth has allowed our planet to sustain life, however, with the increase in greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere, the effect is slowly threatening life on Earth as we know it.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program project estimated that in the next 100 years, temperatures in the U.S. will increase at an average of 5-9 degrees Fahrenheit or 3-5 degrees Celsius. While this may not immediately sound very alarming, temperatures during the ice age era were only an average of 7 degrees lower than the warmest eras. (Newsweek). The temperature changes will vary by region (as will the effects). Scientists project a variety of related problems, such as flooding from a rise in sea level, an increase in the amount and severity of storms, and species extinction.

As the chart above reveals, business is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States. As such, it is the responsibility of business to produce the products consumers demand in a manner that does not emit tons and tons of GHG. In turn, it is the responsibility of consumers to purchase products from businesses working toward decreasing GHG emissions. We can begin to minimize the effects of global climate change through the use of green energy sources (like solar and wind) and energy efficiency measures, but it will take the understanding and commitment of all to bring this vital natural system back into equilibrium.

Links

Carbon Footprint

"Carbon Footprint is proud to be the United Nations (UN) offset partner. Selected to offset emissions from the first ever General Assembly Debate on climate change - held earlier this month in New York." This is a great site to read more about the carbon footprint, climate change and carbon dioxide reductions.

Climate Counts

"Business is the most powerful institution on the planet" so it is important that industries and consumers work together to fight global climate change. Here you will find information and tools to help battle climate change and to increase awareness of the problem to those that are still in the dark.

GHG Protocol Initiative- World Business Council for Sustainable Development

"The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is the most widely used international accounting tool for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions. The GHG Protocol Initiative, a decade-long partnership between the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, is working with businesses, governments, and environmental groups around the world to build a new generation of credible and effective programs for tackling climate change."

Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI)

GEMI provides businesses with tools and strategies to help foster global environmental health and safety as well as economic success.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to "build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” This site contains assessment reports on climate change as well as special reports, technical papers, and methodology reports.

Manicore

Manicore offers a great introduction to global warming, especially the section that differentiates the natural greenhouse effect from the current threat. In addition, the site provides information on the sources of greenhouse gases, a comparison of relative potency, and the potential future conditions resulting from global warming and possible solutions.

NASA- Global Climate Change

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration provides scientific data, measurements, and proven causes as to how and why the climate has been changing over the last 200 years. Several charts and research sources illustrate the effects taking place on the Earth as a result climate change. This site is a useful tool in properly understanding the global status and issues at hand, from a non-bias source.

Safe Climate for Business

Safe Climate is a joint project of the World Resources Institute and the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business and is dedicated to helping business of all sizes understand and take action on climate change. The site contains a helpful tool for determining your carbon footprint.

Stop Global Warming: The Virtual March on Washington

The virtual march is a "non-political effort to bring all Americans together in one place, proving there is a vast consensus that global warming is here now and it is time for our country to start addressing it. With the support of leading scientists, political and religious leaders, prominent Americans and concerned citizens, the Virtual March on Washington will move across the United States via the Internet from one town to the next, showing the evidence of global warming's alarming affects, and highlighting real people's concerns and real solutions along the way." Visit this link to join hundreds of thousands of others in the virtual March to Washington to stop global warming.

The Climate Registry

"The Climate Registry is a collaboration between states, provinces and tribes aimed at developing and managing a common greenhouse gas emissions reporting system with high integrity that is capable of supporting various greenhouse gas emission reporting and reduction policies for its member states and tribes and reporting entities."

The Global Warming Survival Guide by Time

The Global Warming Survival Guide delivers 51 things consumers can do to help curb global climate change.

The Ultimate Guide to Weather and Climate Resources Online

This webpage provides dozens of helpful links for those interested in climate and weather education and learning. The resources listed on this site are helpful for any level of education & age to expand their understanding of the fields of meteorology and forecasting.

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

The UCS is an independent, nonprofit alliance of more than 100,000 concerned citizens and scientists. This is a very intriguing website that offers a lot of very interesting information, in particular news briefs. The green-tips section and the various resources on global warming is noteworthy.

Viability

Viability is a West Michigan based business offering an "expert single source solution for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.” They do this by helping companies develop sustainable strategies and assisting in acquiring grants, performing carbon assessments, and generating carbon credits. The web site contains information on the services provided by Viability, case studies, and articles pertaining to sustainable solutions.

We Can Solve It

The Alliance for Climate Protection launched a project called the We Campaign. The goal is to “build a movement that creates the political will to solve the climate crisis” in part by repowering America with 100% clean electricity within the next ten years. This site provides success stories and information about the technology available that can offer solutions to the climate crisis.

Funded by the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Header photo by Carol Y. Swinehart, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant Extension
Site by CMC/GrandNet