“What's Up With the Weather?” Part 2: How Does Earth's Warm-Up Affect Us?

What's up with the wild weather? We're posting a series of articles and videos that attempt to answer that question.

The Earth is heating up, according to scientific data. Many climate researchers believe the warm-up is changing our weather for the worse. But who’s to blame?

“Really what we’re seeing is the planet is running a fever,” said Dr. Heidi Cullen, a climatologist.
Dr. Cullen says the Earth is becoming trapped under a blanket of heat.

“We have seen massive changes in our climate over time,” said Dr. Cullen. “But what we are seeing now is that we are part of the mix.”

Dr. Cullen says burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas traps energy, creating a warmer, wetter atmosphere. Rutgers University researcher, Dr. Jennifer Francis says there is scientific proof the air is flush with manmade carbon dioxide.

“It’s warming at the surface but it’s cooling very high up in the atmosphere,” said Dr. Francis. “So we know that’s a greenhouse gas fingerprint.”

Dr. Francis also says the sun isn’t the culprit because it’s cooling down. Last week, a new study linked global warming to stronger hurricanes. Scientists at Purdue University say that hurricanes today intensify more quickly, to a higher category, than in the past.

Arctic ice is melting faster than ever and sea levels are rising. This picture represents how much of Delaware and New Jersey could be underwater in seven years.

Credit: Climate Central
This picture represents how much could be underwater in 90 years.

Credit: Climate Central

“This is just a ticking time bomb waiting to happen,” said Dr. Francis.

Not everyone agrees however.

“I don’t think it will be nearly as dramatic as we’re making it out to be,” said Dr. David Legates of the University of Delaware.

Dr. Legates believes the Earth is heating up but disagrees with the majority of published research scientists as to why.

“I don’t think fossil fuels themselves are evil,” said Dr. Legates.

There is also evidence that even as emissions increase, the Earth is picking up some of the slack. In August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that oceans, forests and other eco systems remove half of human created carbon dioxide, gobbling up twice as much as 50 years ago. But researchers also warn to not expect that trend to continue forever.

NBC10 spoke with Alexandra Beyers, who believes climate change is already upon us.

“I definitely believe that we’ll see more of the same just based on the fact that we haven’t changed anything in our society at all,” said Beyers.

Our “What’s Up With the Weather?” series continues tomorrow when we’ll tell you about why millions of dollars are being spent pitting science against science.

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