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Climate Change

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 28

The average global temperature has been rising at an alarming rate for about two centuries now. Of course, this is not the hottest the Earth has ever been; during the time of the dinosaurs, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere were much higher. One does have to consider though, how hot our planet can become while remaining habitable for humans.

The Industrial Revolution, beginning in the early to mid-1800s, started at a faster rate of climate change also known as Global Warming. As our global society has grown more technologically advanced, our reliance on fossil fuels has raised the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The pre-industrial revolution CO2 level was about 280 parts per million. During the Industrial Revolution, coal began to be used as a fuel for machinery. The introduction of oil and gas later on also contributed a large number of emissions, especially in the 20th century.

Global temperature has risen a good amount within the past century especially, but global warming as a term may be misleading to some. Bringing a snowball to the Senate does not prove global warming false. Global warming leads to more extreme weather, such as an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes, and even winter storms. It also has a more gradual effect. Glaciers and ice caps are melting in warmer times of the year and at a faster rate than normal, and the colder times of year are not enough to make up for the damage. The average temperature of our oceans, which absorb much of the increased heat, have risen by about .3 degrees. Considering the fact that oceans cover over 70% of the earth’s surface, that represents an enormous amount of energy being absorbed.

In recent years, many governments have put measures into place to reduce their carbon footprints. This has helped lead to a slow-down in the rate of global warming, enough so that many people have called it a “pause”. This is incorrect because the global temperature is still increasing, albeit at a slower rate.

Around 2036, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere will reach 560 parts per million, double the Pre-Industrial Revolution level. This will cause the world to cross a climate threshold, leading to even greater environmental issues. The slow-down may give us a few more years to correct our behaviors, but only a few.

The slowdown in the rate of global warming shows us that although we may not be able to totally reverse the damage we have caused; our efforts thus far have not been in vain. Now is the time for radical changes in policy. As individuals, we can do our best at reducing our own emissions and make more environmentally sound decisions, but it can only go so far. It’s time we held governments and corporations to the same standard we hold our citizens. We need to move toward clean energy as a society, and quickly. At this point, the possibility of making Earth uninhabitable for humans is not a matter of if, but when.

Source:

Michael E. Mann, Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036, Scientific American, April 1, 2014

Global climate change – Vital Signs of the Planet, https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
Holly Shaftel -editor, July 2, 2018

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Parrots in Peril

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 26

“Endangered species” probably brings to mind an animal or plant that is not often seen. Perhaps the giant panda comes to mind or the whooping crane or something else that lives far away. However, some endangered species are closer than you might think. Many species of parrots, for instance, are seen often in pet stores. Yet, they have become increasingly endangered in recent decades. The illegal parrot trade has brought about the near extinction of many of the 350 species of parrots and will continue to do so if not somehow stopped.

In the United States, around 99 percent of parrots in pet stores are captive bred. Because parrots are now considered an endangered species, this is desirable in order to reduce the number of parrots that are removed from the wild. However, Donald Brightsmith, a zoologist at Texas A&M University, says, “if you’re in Peru, Costa Rica, or Mexico, the chances of it being wild caught are 99 percent,” when buying a parrot. Moreover, in order to prevent further population destruction of these parrots, a way needs to be determined to distinguish captive-bred parrots from wild bred parrots.

Now, captive bred parrot chicks are given a metal band that rests around one of their legs for their entire life. However, illegal parrot traders have been able to make their own metal bands for wild-caught parrots in order for them to appear captive bred. In South Africa, geneticists have come up with a possible solution to this problem. At the University of KwaZulu, a gene profiling method is being developed that will allow breeders, pet buyers, or airport inspectors to determine if the parrot is captive bred by using distinct genetic profiles. Additionally, a method using chemical isotopes is being developed to determine the parrot’s diet, which points to where the parrot originated.

Although the rampant illegal parrot trade may make parrots’ futures seem grim, there have been recent improvements. For instance, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have publicly stated that they will no longer import wild-caught African gray parrots, a species of parrot that has faced increasing danger. Additionally, the Puerto Rican parrot population, which consisted of 13 parrots in the 1970s, now consists of several hundred due to the efforts of biologists. Hopefully, as long as these efforts continue, the parrot populations may be able to avoid reaching extinction.

Source:

Dell’Amore, Christine. “Have Parrots Become Too Popular for their Own Good?” National Geographic. National Geographic. June 2018. Web. June 14, 2018.