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            There have been many discussions throughout the years on
the important issue of global climate change. From political and scientific
debates to religious discussions, everyone has some opinion on the changes
Earth is facing. Global climate change is an increase in average global
temperature causing a significant change in Earth’s climate over time, mostly
due to human impact.

            It seems that most scientific data support the belief
that humans have caused this shift in Earth’s climate. NASA scientists believe
that while “some causes of climate change are natural” such as changes in the
atmosphere due to “volcanic eruptions” and “ocean changes,” it seems that the
significant change in Earth’s climate “can’t be explained by nature alone”
(Dunbar 2015). NASA believes “it is very likely that most of the warming…  is due to the burning of coal, oil and gas”
causing excess heat to remain trapped in the atmosphere (Dunbar 2015). Gary Braasch
also states that “there is ‘very high confidence’ that human activities since
1750 have played a significant role by overloading the atmosphere with Carbon
Dioxide (CO2), hence retaining solar heat that would otherwise
radiate away” (Braasch 2009).  The
majority of the long-term changes in Earth’s climate began after the Industrial
Revolution, with the introduction to excess Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere
making humans the main cause of this change.

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            Within the last few decades, the Earth has seen an
increase in natural disasters. From hurricanes and floods, to droughts and forest
fires, humanity has witnessed and endured these natural disasters. Scientists
are now able to say that these disasters are the results of climate change. With
many studies investigating “the
influence of climate change” on natural disasters, scientists have evaluated “the
extent to which global warming has made them more severe or more likely to
occur” (Harvey 2018). In the fall of 2017, North America alone faced three category
4 or higher hurricanes within the span of a month, while California’s ongoing
drought brought about extreme fires across the state. These disasters lead to
the destruction of communities and residences, as well and the environment
effected. Rebuilding must take place after these events further disrupting the communities
and the economy.  In order to eliminate these
rapidly increasing disasters, humanity must reduce “emission output low enough
so that the atmosphere can heal,” which “is a multigenerational commitment” (Braasch
2009).  

            Various branches of civil and environmental engineering
have begun the process of addressing the many challenges caused by climate change
by “anticipating, mitigating, and adapting to the impacts of climate change” (Scott
2014). Many civil engineering associations strive to provide “more relevant,
comprehensible, and usable knowledge to guide decisions related to climate change,”
which will hopefully “lead to better outcomes” for humanity and the Earth in
the upcoming years (Scott 2014). These changes will not come about without more
“research, and development of improved practices and standards, and education
of practicing and future engineers to prepare to implement its roles” (Scott
2014). While Climate Change has impacted the Earth and humanity greatly, many
are taking the necessary steps in order to stop and reverse the effects of
climate change.

 

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