"'The catalytic converter has had a profound impact on our environment,' says Jim Kliesch, senior engineer for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Advances in the catalytic converter, which rolled out on GM's 1975 model-year cars, and computer-controlled fuel injection technology have all but eliminated tailpipe emissions, he says."
Environmental Impacts of Climate Change
In the last several decades, many scientists, politicians, and the general public have been engaged in a debate over the issue of climate change. Given the unpredictable nature of this issue, speculation abounds over what effects a changing climate could have on our civilization. Some of these effects include economic and human health issues, but the area which is most obviously impacted by climate change is the environment.
Perhaps the most deleterious environmental effect of a warming earth is supposed to be the melting of the arctic glaciers, which would cause rising sea levels and coastal flooding. As evidence that their arctic ice assessments are correct, global warming proponents often point to satellite images from 2007, which showed that the Arctic ice cap was diminishing.
In the years following, however, other satellite images showed a dramatic resurgence in Artic ice, and some studies indicated that Antarctic ice levels are expanding even more rapidly than their northern counterparts, thus helping to compensate for any Arctic ice loss. Moreover, according to prominent sea level scientist Nils-Axel Mörner, sea levels have actually decreased and stabilized since the 1960s and are not rising at the alarming rate the IPCC reports have predicted. Mörner also notes that historical sea levels in low-lying areas such as the Maldives demonstrate that ocean levels were much higher in the past – even without the global warming of our industrialized age.
Another environmental impact of climate change commonly raised is species extinction. According to global warming proponents, a warming world could destroy animal habitats such as forests, ice flows, and coral reefs. The destruction of these habitats could cause loss of food and shelter, and, in cases such as that of the often cited polar bear plight, direct death due to the increased potential of drowning.
Other research, however, suggests that these animals and their habitats are not in as much danger as some might think. A recent study concluded that polar bear populations are thriving and adapting despite their endangered status. Additionally, while habitats such as the coral reef seem to be changing, from the historical data it is unclear whether these changes are indeed attributable to "anthropogenic warming." And, increased temperatures could actually encourage greater plant growth, making animal habitats more expansive and thereby creating a bigger food supply.
A third prominent concern related to climate change and the environment concerns air pollution. Global warming proponents argue that the smog and other damaging pollutants resulting from an industrialized society tend to increase with heat. This idea, however, is contradicted by observed data; according to one source, "air pollution levels have fallen as cities have warmed."
The verdict is still out on whether or not climate change will (mostly) negatively or positively affect humans, animals, and the environment both inhabit. This topic examines both sides of the issue, offering scientific research, congressional testimony, and expert opinion in order to help readers make an informed decision on what the environmental impacts of climate change will likely be.
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