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Earth vs. Electricity: Arctic Sea Ice Thawing

The Arctic sea ice has been melting over many years now.  However, this year, the thawing has been extremely significant.   It is the highest it has ever been at a rate of 35,400 square miles per day.  According to NSIDC scientists, this is twice the rate of norm.  Satellite has began to record the area of ice in the Arctic since 1979, and this year the area is the smallest it has ever been at 1.58 million square miles.   A member of NSIDC, Julienne Stroeve, and her coworkers have been deducing the causes of such effects, and have observed that 60 percent of the thawing in the sea ice since 1979 is the result of human activity, known as the greenhouse effect.  The greenhouse effect occurs because of the burning of fossil fuels, which then produces carbon dioxide.  We burn fossil fuels to provide electricity, and this, in turn, creates effects of global warming which is why the Arctic sea ice are melting.  Having the Arctic ice thaw is also negative for us because this increases the likely hood and occurrences of extreme weather; for example, droughts, heat waves, cold spells, etc.  It would most likely continue to get worse because we enjoy our electricity.

Shown next, is a sort of payoff matrix of Electricity vs. Earth.  From a scale of 0 to 10, for electricity: 0 means no usage, and 10 means greatest amount of usage, for Earth: 0 means worst possible case (bad weather increases, earth gets destroyed), and 10 means the best possible case.  According to Stroeve and her team, their climate models showed that without the greenhouse gas effect, the models do not show any thawing of ice.  Therefore, it is safe to say that if there were no electricity the condition of earth would be very close to 10.  The first number is the rating for electricity and second for Earth.:


 5,  5                                        0, 10


10, 0                                       4, 6

As can be seen if we used no electricity Earth would be at its best condition.  But if we all used as much electricity as we wanted, sooner or later Earth would be destroyed from global warming.  There is, however, a Nash equilibrium which is 5, 5.  If we cut down our electricity usage by half, then Earth would probably be able to survive in a better condition longer.  4, 6 is an example to show that if we decrease our electricity the Earth’s condition increases.  Therefore, the best solution seems to be to cut our electricity by half so that both sides benefit.  In fact, we benefit more if we cut it by half because we can still use electricity and live in a better environment.  However, the reason why this is not happening is because electronics have become a huge part of our lives and we do not want to let go of it for reasons such as communication, entertainment, and a life at night.  Therefore, we are more likely leaning towards 10, 0 instead of the best solution for both.




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