BY STELLA BRYAN
Sea levels rising, sea ice declining, warming oceans, and a temperature rise are just some of the effects climate change has had on our planet in the past 7,000 years. As we watched the ice age die and the modern climate era begin we didn’t realize what was to come. The amount of evidence being consistently recorded by NASA is heartbreaking. Everything in our ecosystems are increasing or decreasing, nothing is remaining consistent. The acidity in our ocean is increasing, ice caps are melting and contributing to the rise of our sea levels, and extreme natural events are rapidly picking up pace.
We need to tell the world what’s going on. We need to listen to climate change activists, people who believe this is a real problem that we need to solve on our own, and come together. One of the most impactful people that is raising global awareness on this topic is Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old climate change activist. In a little over a year, she became popular for her actions in regards to her attempts to save the climate. She has spoken at the United Nations, started a school strike that is now over a year old, and sailed on a boat for 13 days in order to reduce her carbon footprint. We need more people to gain a mindset similar to Thunberg’s. One of her most popular quotes, “Because the future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money” is painfully accurate. Politicians are not doing anything to save our future because they’re making a profit off of it. If they aren’t going to do anything about it, we should.
Global warming has a huge effect on our climate, and is widely involved in climate change. One of the biggest attributes to global warming is “The Greenhouse Effect”. When the sunlight reaches the earth, some of that energy is reflected back into space and some is absorbed and reradiated as heat. Then, most of the heat is absorbed by greenhouse gasses that heat the earth. At first, this doesn’t seem like an issue. However, it can harm our atmosphere greatly. According to NASA, “Certain gasses in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Long-lived gases that remain semi-permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as “forcing” climate change”. These gases are hurting our atmosphere and burning our earth. CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and CFCs are slowly affecting the earth’s natural greenhouse, and there’s no time until the consequences will be permanent.
Another worry we have is the rise of our sea levels. Over the past century, the levels of our sea have slowly been increasing. According to the National Ocean Service (NOS), “In 2014, global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average–the highest annual average in the satellite record (1993-present).” Due to our glaciers and ice sheets melting at a rapid pace, our ocean is expanding and the sea levels are rising, threatening our coastal states like Florida, Texas, California, Hawaii, and more. Even the smallest rise in our sea levels can lead to devastating effects on animal’s habitats, agriculture, and soil contamination.
“Climate change isn’t real” is something we hear regularly when discussing the topic. But it is very much real, and very much going to affect the lives of our children and grandchildren if we don’t do something about it. We need to take action, change our lifestyle. We always think “Oh, it’s just one person it won’t change anything” if we litter, or in some way harm our environment. It is not just one person. Everyone is collectively harming our earth’s atmosphere and ecosystem. We need to make a change and protect our earth. We all need to come together, improve our environment, and spread awareness.
If we don’t make a big change soon, in about 10 years (2030) we’ll be put in a position where improving our climate will be unreachable. Our generation and the generations to come will have nothing to look forward to. Time is slowly running out, we have to stop saying we need to make a change and actually do so. Reducing our waste, going vegan, decreasing our carbon footprint, and become politically aware are just a few of the things we can do to help this matter. There are so many plant alternatives to your day to day meals. Going vegan conserves water (it takes 100 to 200 times more water to raise a pound of beef than it does a pound of plant food!), keeps our soil clean, reduces energy consumption, and purifies the air. Reducing the amount of waste we produce is also extremely impactful to our environment. Once goods are used they’re dumped into a landfill or destroyed in an incinerator. If everyone went zero waste we would conserve our natural resources and reduce pollution greatly. Decreasing our carbon footprint is extremely helpful, and can decrease the greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere immensely. Little ways to do so include riding your bike to work or school, travelling less as planes and trains emit a large amount of greenhouse gasses, or lowering your heating system in the winter time. Helping the environment can be as big as a lifestyle change or as small as not littering. Every little thing matters.
Think about what you can do in order to help save our climate. Try and improve your lifestyle and consider the effects you have on the environment. Make those small changes, because their impacts could be huge. Past generations have put us in this place, and we need to fix it. Attend climate strikes, eat healthier, avoid travel that leads to pollution. Be that person that actually attempts to save the world. Don’t take what you have for granted, because in 10 years it could be gone.