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Pacific Islands Climate Change Affects YOU – part 1

November 15, 2013

Which Hawaii do you want to live in ?

The Earth is getting warmer and higher temperatures mean big changes for the entire planet, including those of us who live on Pacific islands. The surface of the Earth has warmed about 1°F since the mid-1970s and the eight warmest years on record have all occurred since 2001. By the end of this century, the best estimate of temperature increase is 5.4°F. Oceans are also becoming warmer and more acidic due to the absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the water, creating carbonic acid. These effects, and others related to human induced changes like sea level rise, are known as climate change.

Greenhouse gasses, such as CO2 and methane, allow heat from the sun to be absorbed by the land and the ocean. This natural effect keeps the earth at a stable temperature, however the vast amounts of greenhouse gasses that humans have released through our burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, etc.) has vastly increased CO2 concentrations since the Industrial Revolution.

The last time CO2 levels were this high was at least 15 million years ago before humans even existed. Back then, global temperatures were 5-10°F higher with sea levels 75 to 120 feet higher, and very little permanent ice on Earth. This is extreme, but it may be the direction that the Earth is heading.

If we can’t curb our thirst for CO2 producing fossil fuels, then conditions on Earth will be dramatically different for humans in the future. Even today, we can already see changes happening to the land, sea, and everything (and everyone) that lives on the planet.


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