2012 was the hottest year recorded in the Continental U.S., and this year is expected to break more records.
Robert Bruck, professor of plant pathology, forestry, environmental science and technology, said for the first year in 34 years of teaching, he will use the word “fact” in relation to global warming.
“People need to wake up. This is not a political ploy, it is science,” Bruck said. “A global holocaust is what it will take for people to wake up after tens of thousands of people die.”
Bruck said mankind is a large contributor, if not the sole cause, for the excessive warming of the earth.
“Things are happening much faster than anyone anticipated in terms of global data analysis,” Bruck said. “It will be life-changing during the lifetimes of all of the students on campus.”
Michael Scanlan, a sophomore studying meteorology, said he too has studied a trend of rising temperatures since the industrial revolution when humans began using more fossil fuels.
Scanlan said that rising temperatures could lead to warmer oceans, creating stronger and more destructive hurricanes and a rise in sea levels. Since 1990, sea levels have been rising at about 1.8 millimeters per year, according to Scanlan.
Higher temperatures and warmer global climates will lead to longer and heavier droughts as well, something Scanlan said could affect the entire population. We could even be seeing the effects close to home, including changes at Lake Gaston and Falls Lake near Raleigh.
“Winter doesn’t seem to exist anymore,” Bruck said.
Bruck said if the current pattern continues, popular tourist areas such as Wilmington may no longer exist by the end of the century, bringing the N.C. shore near New Bern.
With more frequent and longer lasting droughts due to the rise in average temperatures, Scanlan said tourism could increase in cities and lakes as opposed to the beaches because of the heat from the sand.
Bruck’s initial interview to be a professor at N.C. State was cancelled due to two feet of snow in Raleigh. Now, 34 years later, Raleigh has seen temperatures in the 70s during mid-January.
Bruck said Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey, was “screaming” about global climate change following Hurricane Sandy, behavior that is unusual of the party. He said that he believes it proves a widening acceptance of global warming.
“Two ex-PhD students of mine work for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and they showed me their data,” Bruck said. “They’re scared.”
Humans are currently emitting 79 billion tons worth of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels into the atmosphere according to Bruck, something he said he believes is a significant contributor to the warming trend.
“Higher carbon dioxide levels lead to higher temperatures which lead to a warmer climate,” Bruck said.
Bruck, Scanlan and global climate scientists all agree global warming is quickly becoming a “fact” and deserves more attention.
Bruck said people need to start seriously considering alternative energy options such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy.
“We need to start thinking about how the future of our planet will be,” Bruck said.