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The Code of Climate Change

Rosemary Thomas
Department of Biology 
Lake Forest College 
Lake Forest, IL 60045

On February 28th 2016, Leonardo DiCaprio finally got his first Oscar of best actor for his role in the movie “The Revenant.” Everyone was eagerly anticipating his acceptance speech. What would he talk about after finally getting his Oscar? Would he talk about how long he had wished for an Oscar? Would he mention his adventures of eating raw fish and surviving freezing rivers? Not at all! Instead he used this chance to talk about an even more pressing issue: climate change. DiCaprio explained, “Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It’s the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” Well said. In addition to following DiCaprio’s advice, we need to understand what is happening to our planet and how to study it.

Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist, explains the troubles of studying something so complex. Scientists usually perform studies in a lab by using models and experiments, but they can’t take a smaller piece of the climate and bring it into the lab. It is also ridiculous to remake a climate in a lab. The climates of different regions in the world interact with each other and need to be connected to be studied. Scientists want to learn in large scales such as the difference between observing the molecules in a cloud to figuring out the climate of the entire world. In addition, climatologists don’t want to study the climate for just a month, they want to look at years of climate change.

Luckily, generations of scientists have been doing their best to keep track of the climate and its multitude of patterns with today’s knowledge and technology. It might not look at climate of the earth as a whole, but at least we have some of the pieces to the puzzle of climate change. Scientists have been using equations to understand the climate of a region and then changing it into code. They code for clouds, radiation, ice, rain, vegetation, snow, and much more. Once these pieces are put together with tens of thousands of lines of code, we get a better picture of climate patterns across the world.

These patterns formulated from code could give us a hint as to what would happen to the surrounding climate if there was an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in the future. We could take precautions against other changes in climate and control the surrounding environment. Scientists have already compared this model of codes to the actual observations of climate change in the 20th century. As time goes by, the patterns for both the model and the real-time observations look similar. For example, it can be seen that the 20th century is a lot warmer. We already know that it is mainly because of the carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere. The model of code gives a similar answer.

Although predictions are great, we also have to make our own decisions early as inhabitants of the earth. Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t kidding when he said the production crew “needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow.” In the future, more mountains and polar glaciers could melt, causing sea levels to raise by 0.35 millimeters each year. Climate change will lead to more intense heat waves and fewer cool days. There has already been a repeat of low snowfall for the past decade.

There are some simple solutions anyone could do to help reduce climate change. We could buy energy efficient products, plant trees, recycle, and make wiser transportation choices. These are just a few of the options to save our home and future generations. It’s time to stop waiting for predictions to come true, and time to act for the health of our earth.

Note: Eukaryon is published by students at Lake Forest College, who are solely responsible for its content. The views expressed in Eukaryon do not necessarily reflect those of the College.


How Will Global Warming Change Earth? (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page6.php
M. L. (2016). Leonardo DiCaprio Uses Oscar Speech to Speak Out on Climate Change. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from http://variety.com/2016/film/news/leonardo-dicaprio-oscar-speech-climate-change-1201717970/
The emergent patterns of climate change. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from http://www.ted.com/talks/gavin_schmidt_the_emergent_patterns_of_climate_change


Eukaryon is published by students at Lake Forest College, who are solely responsible for its content. The views expressed in Eukaryon do not necessarily reflect those of the College.

Articles published within Eukaryon should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.