Climate change, defined by NASA as the change in usual weather patterns in a certain area, is a very real and looming threat to life as we know it. The first step to resolving any issue, global or domestic, is raising the necessary awareness to make change possible. However, The New York Times reported that while a vast majority of American’s acknowledge that climate change is occurring evidenced by sixty-nine percent of the country agreeing with factory CO2 emission caps, few actually believe they will personally feel the effects of it. Surprisingly, southern states like Texas and Florida who have experienced the brunt of increasingly violent storm surges and rising sea levels in recent years, fall behind the national average of those who believe climate change will affect them. Throughout the course of the semester our team will be covering climate-related events and trends that will directly affect everyone on earth in one way or another. For more on climate change and its consequences, see the video below.
One of the developing stories that we will be following is the growing wildfires in western Greenland. Yes, the same Greenland that is mostly covered in ice is partly on fire. In some areas, the fire is estimated to cover over one thousand acres, making it the largest wildfire in Greenland history. Rising temperature levels in the area, combined with human contributions, clearly played a key role in creating ideal conditions for these fires to occur. To put the magnitude of Greenland’s human contribution into perspective, in 2014 the small island country emitted the third most fossil fuel levels in the world, third only to China and the United States. Effects from climate change seen in Greenland have proven immediate, as rising temperature levels have begun melting the permafrost along Greenland’s west coast. This, combined with a lack of rain, has allowed the soil and grasslands to become dried out by the sun. Professor Sander Veraverbeke, who specializes in weather at a university in Amsterdam, believes that a random lightning strike during a strong storm, which is also a likely product of rising temperatures, caused the massive wildfire to break out. The fires are expected to contribute even further to the local warming crisis as well. The smoke produced by the wildfire will trap heat from leaving the atmosphere, effectively continuing the permafrost melting situation. Additional greenhouse gases will also be admitted as a result of gasses being released from the melting permafrost. The global community needs to pay close attention to situations like Greenland’s, as weather anomalies will likely continue to occur across the planet if steps aren’t taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The video featured below describes the causes and effects of Greenland’s wildfire problem, and shows an aerial view of the fire’s smoke to show how large it is.
Implications and consequences stretch far beyond the scope of global weather conditions. Large businesses who emit fossil fuels to operate will likely be impacted as climate change talks continue to gain across-the-board legitimacy. National governments will likely also face pressure to spend heavily on revamped infrastructure that does not emit as much greenhouse gases, such as solar or wind turbine energy production. Stricter laws and tax incentives/penalties could also be put into place that would cause businesses to redesign how they operate their factories and refineries, effectively raising their breakeven point due to the associated costs. Over the next few months, our group will continue to analyze global events such as the wildfires in Greenland, in addition to the global implications such events have on business operations and various prospective laws. Climate change is beginning to greatly affect the fragile world we live on, and we as a global community need to take necessary measures to mitigate its substantial negative impact.