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Mechanisms of Change and the Fossil Record

A Closer Look at the Evidence

Concentration of CO2

Despite its indisputable beneficial functions for the Earth, carbon dioxide (CO2) appears to be causing more harm due to human activity. The NASA Climate graph demonstrates that CO concentration has been increasing since 2005, unevenly but steadily, jumping about 36 parts per million (NASA Climate, n.d.b). The corresponding map shows CO2’s global distribution, and all countries seem to be affected by carbon dioxide’s increase, especially Russia and China (NASA Climate, n.d.b). The overall picture implies dire consequences for the world if nothing changes.

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Although nature is partially responsible for influencing the level of carbon dioxide, it also possesses the means to control it. They are called natural carbon sinks, which include plants and the ocean (Met Office, n.d.). However, recently, their CO2 absorbing abilities have weakened, leading to a more considerable increase in carbon dioxide levels (Met Office, n.d.). Such weakening could be temporary, but at the current rate, the natural sinks are unlikely to overtake human activity (Met Office, n.d.). Therefore, instead of relying on nature’s mechanisms to resolve the issue, governments should develop specific measures to combat it.

Categories

The NASA Climate and Met Office websites offer additional information on climate change, and some elements of its organization coincide. The former has such categories as evidence for climate change, causes and effects of it, scientific consensus on climate change, vital signs, and questions, all falling under the Facts sections. Both websites share the causes and effects sections, as well as one with the scientific ground (Met Office, n.d.; NASA Climate, n.d.a). NASA’s evidence and vital signs sections partially correspond to Met Office’s “What is climate change” webpage, while the former’s FAQ category has no counterpart (Met Office, n.d.; NASA Climate, n.d.b). Meanwhile, the British website has data on the local climate and a segment with reports, although some informational pages on the NASA website reflect the climate in the US (Met Office, n.d.; NASA Climate, n.d.a). Altogether, there is a general agreement between the supporting units on the websites, but NASA Climate also had a developed FAQ section while Met Office offers an insight into the UK’s climate.

Effects

Climate change, perhaps, would not be an issue if it did not lead to potentially devastating effects. Those include a rise in temperature, sea level, and precipitation (NASA Climate, n.d.a). On the other hand, the amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean will decrease, affecting climate change as a whole and leading to the loss of freshwater resources (NASA Climate, n.d.a). Additionally, there will be an increase in natural disasters such as droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, and floods (NASA Climate, n.d.a). It will put many lives at risk and render localities that already experience those issues on a regular basis uninhabitable.

How Can Economic Growth Become Part of the Solution?

Negative Impact and the Biggest Threat to Biodiversity

The impact of economic growth on nature can be described as ambiguous, but it is important to highlight its negative sides. It leads to higher consumption of resources, which include fossil fuels, plants, and animals, and more pressure on natural environments, although stagnation appears to increase the risks (The Economist, 2013). Particularly, increased demand for land, which is based on more specific needs, may threaten biodiversity the most, as it causes habitat loss (The Economist, 2013). As a result, species may even go extinct, which directly affects the rate of the said diversity (The Economist, 2013). Thus, economic growth and stagnation have negatively impacted the environment, reducing the number of habitats and, consequently, biodiversity.

Positive Impact of Economic Growth

As mentioned previously, economic growth is not inherently harmful to the planet despite having a pronounced detrimental effect. Those countries that reached a certain level of development shifted their attention to environmental issues (The Economist, 2013). Using legislation, those governments aim to halt poaching and improve conservation measures for endangered species (The Economist, 2013). Moreover, richer countries promote better sanitation and pesticide regulation, as well as allocate subsidies for habitat restoration (The Economist, 2013). Other measures are also being implemented, and the general trend is helping the environment recover from the negative effects of human intervention (The Economist, 2013). Perhaps, it will require more effort to compensate for the harm caused to the planet, but once all countries achieve a high developmental level, such measures may focus on improving rather than fixing the situation.

Summary

In conclusion, economic growth directly impacts climate change, although it does in many ways, not all of which are detrimental. First of all, industrial buildings, vehicles, and increased consumption of resources lead to the constantly rising carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere, which hastens climate change. Then, economic growth requires more land use, which causes the loss of natural habitats and, in the worst-case scenario, prompts species to go extinct. As a result, biodiversity declines, although more prosperous and developed countries strive to improve the situation with conservation measures and habitat restoration programs. Ultimately, while economic growth brought much harm to the environment, it also provides the grounds for initiating and implementing improvements in the ecological field.

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References

Met Office. (n.d.). What is climate change? Web.

NASA Climate. (n.d.a). Effects. Web.

NASA Climate. (n.d.b). Vital signs. Web.

The Economist. (2013). Special report – biodiversity: Averting the sixth extinction; the outlook. Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Mechanisms of Change and the Fossil Record." February 27, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/mechanisms-of-change-and-the-fossil-record/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Mechanisms of Change and the Fossil Record'. 27 February.

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