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Land-ocean temperature index, 1880 to present, with base period 1951-1980. Courtesy NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies - http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

When you hear the word “Monster,” what do you think of? You might imagine a red, slimy creature with razor-like teeth, or an enormous shadowy figure lurking around. But some monsters are not like the ones you would typically think of. Global warming is one such monster that is really threatening life as we know it today. Global warming, also called climate change, is a slow process in which the Earth is slowly getting hotter and hotter as the years go by. According to the article “Global Warming 101,” 15 of the 16 hottest years in the 134-year record kept by NASA have occurred after the year 2000. I never even knew about global warming and what was slowly happening to our planet until my dad suggested for me to research this topic.

Global warming is caused by something called the greenhouse effect. In this effect, carbon dioxide and other gases such as water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide are collected in the atmosphere. These gases are called “greenhouse gases”, and they trap heat in our atmosphere. This effect has always been happening to the Earth to keep it warm. However, it is now getting faster as more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

What made me angry was that humans are causing global warming. We burn tremendous amounts of coal, oil, and natural gases every day. We drive millions of cars, trucks, trains, buses, and other vehicles that release carbon dioxide. Trees actually convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, but we cut them down, releasing more carbon dioxide. All these processes (and more) of emitting greenhouse gases add up and warm our climate faster.

After finding out how global warming happened, I wanted to know how it affected our planet. Unfortunately, pretty much everything I found out was a consequence for us on Earth. These are only a fraction of the many problems global warming has caused:
  • The drought in California, 2015 “...has been intensified from 15 to 20 percent because of global warming...” There are also stronger hurricanes, heat waves, monsoons, and blizzards.
  • The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf was the largest sheet of ice in the Arctic, but after being around for 3000 years, it started to crack in 2002. It then split in 2002 and started breaking into smaller pieces. Many Arctic animals are now starving because of their unstable, melting habitat.
  • The coral reef—an ecosystem home to all of these species: fish, jellyfish, crabs, octopuses, sea snakes, clams, anemones, turtles, and algae—is very sensitive to higher ocean temperatures. When the ocean temperatures rise because of global warming, the reefs will die and cause other species that rely on them to die as well.

I was shocked at how our planet having higher temperatures by only about 1.8°F (1°C) could affect so many things in such a bad way! This made very sad, and to be honest a little scared. I wondered what would happen to Earth many years from now if global warming kept getting stronger and stronger.

My findings about the effects of global warming encouraged me to research ways humans can help stop global warming from “devouring” our planet. What I found was that we should strive to use less energy, such as taking shorter showers, using less light and electricity, and riding bikes or walking when we can instead of driving cars. There were also many more things I learned in this article about what we can all do to stop global warming. Remember, if everyone does one small action a day, we can fight the monster known as global warming.

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