Global Warming Continues to Creep, Contrary to Polar Vortex

CHICAGO%2C+ILLINOIS+-+JANUARY+30%3A+A+man+walks+along+the+lakefront+as+temperatures+hovered+around+-20+degrees+on+January+30%2C+2019+in+Chicago%2C+Illinois.+Businesses+and+schools+have+closed%2C+Amtrak+has+suspended+service+into+the+city%2C+more+than+a+thousand+flights+have+been+cancelled+and+mail+delivery+has+been+suspended+as+the+city+copes+with+record-setting+low+temperatures.++%28Photo+by+Scott+Olson%2FGetty+Images%29
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Global Warming Continues to Creep, Contrary to Polar Vortex

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 30: A man walks along the lakefront as temperatures hovered around -20 degrees on January 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Businesses and schools have closed, Amtrak has suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights have been cancelled and mail delivery has been suspended as the city copes with record-setting low temperatures.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 30: A man walks along the lakefront as temperatures hovered around -20 degrees on January 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Businesses and schools have closed, Amtrak has suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights have been cancelled and mail delivery has been suspended as the city copes with record-setting low temperatures. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 30: A man walks along the lakefront as temperatures hovered around -20 degrees on January 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Businesses and schools have closed, Amtrak has suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights have been cancelled and mail delivery has been suspended as the city copes with record-setting low temperatures. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Getty Images

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 30: A man walks along the lakefront as temperatures hovered around -20 degrees on January 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Businesses and schools have closed, Amtrak has suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights have been cancelled and mail delivery has been suspended as the city copes with record-setting low temperatures. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Emily Dozier, Staff Writer

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Since the northeast and midwestern United States was slammed with below freezing weather, leaving millions of people trapped in their homes, at least 21 people have reportedly died. Still, this doesn’t include the thousands of people who are homeless, left on the freezing streets to bear the temperatures. For Chicago, Detroit, New York, and other major cities struck by the polar vortex, this weather phenomenon brings the coldest air seen in over a generation. Additional wind chill can bring the temperature down to 50 degrees below zero, such as it is in Minneapolis and other Minnesotan towns. The schools needed more than one snow day, to say the least.

While this Arctic blast has brought in historically low temperatures, it may actually be a result of global warming. The World Meteorological Organization reports that the past four years have been the warmest years globally on record. The vortex is caused by a distortion in the winds of the low-pressure Arctic system. It can occasionally dip down, spilling frigid air into the remaining Northern Hemisphere. The winds are disrupted by an increase in moisture, a result of rising sea levels caused by melting ice caps. Coastal cities will even be flooded with melted ice at the current rate of carbon dioxide emissions. By the summer of 2050, the Arctic Ocean may be ice free.

Rising temperatures threaten more than just melting ice sheets. If countries fail to act, the International Panel on Climate Change says even one degree may cause detrimental damage. The ability to grow crops like wheat and rice is in danger due to rising acidity. While car companies like Toyota are working towards more environmentally-friendly fuels, carbon emissions continue to rise. CO2 concentrations of 410 parts per million are the highest levels recorded since beginning of time. In addition, 10 billion tons of carbon are being released from the earth’s crust into the atmosphere every year, only adding to pollution damage.

Politicians and world leaders consistently criticize and deny the changing environment, with the U.S. administration even lowering taxes on emission-producing factories. Environmental administrators in the UN were shamed by 15-year old Greta Thunberg who spoke out at a climate change panel in Poland in August of 2018 because of their refusal to act. However, new reports show that if action is not taken, the Earth only has 12 years to avoid the worst of climate change. If global warming is not reduced, irreversible and catastrophic damage will occur, destroying the future of the planet.

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Emily Dozier, Staff Writer

Emily Dozier is a senior in Journalism 4 at Northgate. After high school, she plans to pursue a degree in journalism and communications while playing college...

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Global Warming Continues to Creep, Contrary to Polar Vortex