*Editor’s Note: This article was written by Cara Eschenmann*
Chris Mooney, a science and environmental writer for the Washington Post, visited Bloomsburg University to talk about climate change and global warming in recognition of Earth Day.
Mooney believes the “inescapable math of the planet” proves that our world needs to take climate change seriously. He has seen firsthand its effects when visiting the Petermann glacier in Greenland with two scientists, where they watched a piece of the glacier fall to the ocean floor and come back up. Greenland is losing ice through melting and iceberg breaks, adding about a millimeter annually to the rise of our oceans.
“I am not here to bring anybody down. I am just giving you the facts,” states Mooney. Greenland and Antarctica’s combined ice loss is 413 gigatons a year with human carbon dioxide emissions at 41 gigatons. This has caused a rise in our sea level of 3.2 millimeters. Meredith Nettles of Columbia University describes a gigaton in layman terms as, “if you took the whole National Mall, and covered it up with ice, to a height about four times as high as the Washington monument… All the way down from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial.”
Mooney explains that this mathematical combination will not be good for our future and enable the world to keep global warming in check. He proposes that the research perhaps indicates that “we as humans have become a geophysical force,” if one agrees that the human greenhouse gas emissions are behind the melting of Greenland and Antarctica.
“We have choices to make,” says Mooney. “What has to happen to stop the melting and nix what the carbon emissions are doing to our planet?” He explains that the world has to do more, and quickly. Every year, more carbon emissions from fossil fuels, industry and land use change, amounting to 41.1 billion tons are put into our atmosphere, according to the Global Carbon Project. In order to attain the goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees, which would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change, something has to happen to “get the ball rolling.” Mooney showed many charts explaining each topic of discussion.
Sophomore Ashley Barebo was among the many students who attended Mooney’s presentation. When asked about the presentation, she said, “The biggest thing I took away from the presentation was that humans emit 41 gigatons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.” This was something that Mooney stressed many times throughout his presentation.
Students can follow up on Mooney and his research through his many Washington Post articles.