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2019 was Earth’s hottest year — effects of climate change are clear

Rachel Mirakova

A new decade does not mean hitting the reset button on climate change. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA have reported that 2019 was Earth’s second-warmest year in history, only 0.04 degrees behind 2016, the hottest year on record. 

Researchers were able to list the continents and compare their heat levels to that of previous years using data collected by the University of Alabama in Huntsville. 

In 2019, Oceania, which is comprised mainly of Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, had its warmest year on record while Europe and South America had their second-warmest. 

It was the third-warmest for Asia while North America had its 14th warmest year. 

When focusing on the United States, it was recorded that the country had its 34th warmest year in 2019, but states including Alaska, North Carolina and Georgia had their hottest year. 

The increasing global warmth trend started six years ago in 2014. Researchers said that the sun’s solar cycle, which typically causes great waves of heat to hit Earth, had nothing to do with the spike in temperature in 2019. 

As the temperature on land increases, so does the temperature in oceans and other bodies of water. 

The ocean heat content, which measures the water temperatures in the ocean, also reached its warmest year in 2019. 

This may sound insignificant but higher water temperature can lead to sea levels rising and this starts a chain reaction with sea ice melting, ecosystems being disrupted and the destruction of coral reefs. 

From a business standpoint, this can negatively impact economic profits made by fisheries and restaurants. Small island economies, such as Manhattan, would disappear.  

Most of the heat gets trapped in the ocean, which makes the ocean a great resource in measuring global warming, according to scientific journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. 

The Institute of Atmospheric Physics measured the ocean heat content and concluded that excessive heat causes increased evaporation, which leads to more moisture in the air and heavy rain that can lead to flooding. 

Human-emitted greenhouse gases are the leading cause of global warming. These gases trap heat and can store it anywhere from one year to thousands of years. 

Greenhouse gases  come from the burning of fossil fuels and the mass production of farm animals for human use. 

Methane emissions are one of the more common greenhouse gases, and over 29% of them come from livestock.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition promotes the improvement of livestock treatment and feeding to reduce methane emissions. 

There are both simple and complex actions people can take to help reduce greenhouse gases, according to an article  from Scientific American. 

Electricity is often created using fossil fuels, yet the consumption of electricity can be changed. Believe it or not, electronics that seem dormant when turned off actually still use some electricity when plugged in.

Unplugging a few of one’s electronics, like televisions or computers at night, can help lower the consumption of electricity and it will save people money on their electric bill as well. 

Switching old devices for new ones can also help as new devices use electricity more efficiently and last longer with a single charge. 

The way you eat can also help with reducing greenhouse gases. Eating less meat means less livestock is killed, but eating vegetables like corn could actually produce the same effects as eating meat. Corn uses heavy amounts of oil for fertilizer and diesel fuel is used to transport the corn, which releases greenhouse gases as well. 

Aside from all the turmoil happening currently, future generations are the ones affected the most. 

The disruptive climate change increases disease and air pollution, and leads future generations to be more exposed to health risks. 

In 2016, 7 million deaths were caused by air pollution, according to the World Health Organization. 

Additionally, the increase in temperature could cause food prices to soar and in turn lead to malnutrition. 

Most of the actions one can take to prevent an even warmer year has probably been said before, but now is the time to actually take initiative towards them. 

Global warming is not only harmful for the world right now, but it could cost the human race its existence.

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