by Will De Four, age 14
Earth is changing as the icecaps are shrinking, forests are diminishing, and extinction rates are over 100 times greater than in the past millennia. Almost all of these changes are being caused by human activity, and the most destructive is the production of greenhouse gases.
The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air today is almost twice as much as there was 1,000 years ago. This shift has not been gradual either, as the largest spike of CO2 has occurred over only the past 150 years. But what has caused this rapid increase, and how can it be stopped?
The sun is what keeps Earth warm, shining on the planet to keep it at a reasonable temperature. Greenhouse gasses are a kind of gate, where light can enter with ease, but is not strong enough to escape once it becomes heat. The gasses that do this can build up, causing the planet to warm drastically. When animals breathe, they take in oxygen and release CO2, while plants do the opposite. This creates a cycle that allows the CO2 to remain at an acceptable rate. When people drive to work, crank up their air conditioning, or produce goods in factories, large amounts of CO2 are added. Humanity has now added too much CO2 for the Earth to handle. [Read More]