[Letter to the editor]Act globally and individually on warmingAmid rising temperatures, concerns over global warming are growing rapidly. The global temperature has risen 0.45 degrees centigrade since the late 19th century, and recent years recorded the warmest winters since 1891. The United Nations’ top expert forum on global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that the Earth’s surface temperature could rise by up to 4.6 degrees centigrade or even higher if carbon dioxide levels double over pre-industrial levels, and that it would lead to a sea level rise of 7 meters if the temperature rise were sustained over thousands of years. As one may notice, the issue of global climate change has become undeniable and problematic, yet no efficacious measures have been taken.
The Kyoto Protocol, the most comprehensive amendment to the international treaty on climate change, has disappointed the international community as its effectiveness in reducing greenhouse gas emissions was not sufficiently proved. Many analysts argue that despite the fact that many industrialized countries signed the treaty, major greenhouse gas producers, such as the United States, China and India, are not engaged, making it more challenging for the international community to effectively reduce greenhouse gases.
Countries that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, including the United States, should now show their responsibility by signing the treaty. This goes especially for the United States, a country that emits 36.1 percent of global greenhouse gases and that has already achieved a certain economic level. For years, the U.S. president and top officials have justified their refusal to grapple seriously with global warming by insisting that more research is needed in order to take substantial measures. Moreover, they have alleged that the Kyoto Protocol was unfair to the United States and that domestically it is already promoting a program under the Clean Air Act.
Yet be reminded that reducing greenhouse gases and lowering temperatures cannot be achieved by domestic legislation alone. In fact, what is truly needed in the current predicament are actions taken globally. Only international efforts could bring about substantial reductions in gas emissions. Nevertheless, one should not underestimate the importance of efforts by countries and individuals.
The world would be able to see a significant lowering of temperature only with action [pursued] globally and individually.
Inevitably, nations and individuals must act, for they cannot deny climate change anymore, nor can they simply ignore this phenomenon clearly taking place at a rapid pace. Now is the appropriate time for the world to respond.
We cannot merely wait for an alternative energy source to become sufficiently available to everyone as the resolution of the problem. Clearly some efforts need to be taken by countries to reduce the emission of heat trapping gases. Domestic efforts would include taking up the current emission trading system, also known as the cap and trade system, which would enable nations to reduce greenhouse gases produced by companies. Developed countries and those producing a large amount of greenhouse gases should actively adopt such systems.
In addition, countries including the United States should sign the Kyoto Protocol and commit to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases.
For individuals, the government should seek ways to promote the use of solar energy in heating homes and public transportation rather than driving automobiles.
What each one of us has to bear in mind is that global climate change requires global cooperation and everyone committed to a course of action.
a senior at Daeil Foreign Language High School
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