"Could the Greenhouse Effect Cause More Damage?"

Essay by Seresa PetersonHigh School, 10th gradeA+, January 1996

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'Could the Greenhouse Effect Cause More Damage?'

John Harte is an ecologist from the University of California at

Berkley. He is trying to find out whether heat stimulates further

trace-gas from solid or not. He is going to conduct an experiment that

will tell him if the greenhouse effect could start a cycle that would cause

the effects to be worse than already predicted. The experiment will begin

December of 1996 and will run for no less than three years.

Harte has stretched a twelve foot high grid of cables above 300 square

yards of land in a high mountain meadow in the middle of the Colorado

Rockies. The cables are supported by four steel towers, one at each

corner of the grid. Hanging down from the cables are ten infrared heat

lamps which are about three feet long each. This is supposed to simulate

what many see as the coming apocalypse.

(global warming) 'By 2050, if we

decide to load trace gasses - mainly carbon dioxide - into the atmosphere

at our current rate, we can expect Earth's temperature to increase by any-

where from three to nine degrees. The Vostok record confirms that,'

says Harte.

The grid is divided into ten sections. Each of the ten sections covers

thirty square yards of the meadow. The infarared lamps will heat every

other section by 2.5 degrees. The unheated sections in between allow

researchers to compare the efects of the lamps with the regular state of

the meadow.

One time a week, Harte will take gas samples from buckets turned

upside down for ten minutes at a time on both the heated and unheated

strips through fitted nipples at the bottoms of the buckets by syringes,

then analyze them with a gas chromatograph. 'We'll be able to plot any

changes in the meadow very precisely,' says Harte.

Some of these changes could alter the very make-up of the seasons.

With a 2.5 degree rise in temperature, snow at high elevations might

melt up to two months sooner. In Colorado that would constitute March

as May. As a result, the soil will dry quicker and will be much warmer

than usual when May rolls around. John Harte says it would be like

expanding summer at the expense of winter.

That means plants that usually start to bloom just as the snow begins

to melt will bloom sooner then the pollinators of those plants can get to

them. That would be harmful to both of the species involved. Harte says

that this project should confirm that people don't have any time to waste

when it comes to saving this disaster from happening.

In three years, Harte and other researchers will be able to tell

whether or not Global Warming will be the next apocalypse. This apparently

is a serious issue to many environmentalists and ecologists. A lot of time,

money, and effort is being put into this. If this experiment ends up

warning us about what may happen if people keep polluting the atmosphere

with certain gasses, Harte and other researchers working on this project

will be commended.