At our school, 89.3% of students and parents believe in climate change. You may ask, well, what is climate change? Climate change is the shift in weather patterns. I know what you are thinking, how is that bad? Here is the evidence.
In the past thirty years the surface temperature has risen 1.62°F. The Earth’s warming has caused Greenland to lose 286 billion tons of ice per year in the last 23 years! Sea levels have risen eight inches in the last century and are predicted to rise to four more feet by the year 2100. According to NASA, carbon dioxide levels have never been higher than the current level in the past 400,000 years! Angela Merkel, the Chancellor (president) of Germany said, “We must now agree on a binding review mechanism under international law so that this century can credibly be called a century of decarbonization.”
Even though you know the evidence behind climate change, you may still wonder, what are the causes of this climate change?
The main cause of climate change is the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is gases trapping heat in the atmosphere. The heat is absorbed by greenhouse gases and is spread vastly everywhere, warming the Earth. These gases include water vapor(H20), carbon dioxide(CO2), methane(CH4), nitrous oxide(N20), and chlorofluorocarbons, which are man made. It is these man made gases which will eventually contribute to our demise. The burning of fossil fuels is changing the natural greenhouse.
So now you know what is behind climate change and you know the causes. You may wonder, could it be from the sun or perhaps it is just made up?
According to President Donald Trump, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese to make US manufacturing less competitive.” President Trump believes this because going zero emissions would seriously lower the economic value of the country and allow China to gain an immense profit and possibly become the richest country on the planet. Guy McPherson, PhD has a different opinion. “If you think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath when you count your money.”
Other critics believe the sun is the culprit for global warming. That is not true. Since 1750, the average supply of energy produced from the sun has remained consistent. Also, it has been proven that there is cooling in the upper atmosphere. If the sun were to blame, the upper atmosphere would be the warmest because it is the closest to the sun. Paul Polman once said, “Climate change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality, it is about changes in our very way of life.”
Ok, climate change is a problem, but what are the consequences it has on the world? Why does it have anything to do with us?
Some effects include changes in precipitation patterns, more droughts and heatwaves in Southern California, intensifying hurricanes, the Arctic becoming ice free before 2050, by the time you are in your forties. However, it is not just the planet that climate change affects, it affects animals, including humans, too. So far climate change has affected, moose, salmon, snowshoe hares, American pikas, sea turtles, puffins, Alaskan caribou, piping plovers, orange-spotted filefish, the quiver tree, adélie penguins, North Atlantic cod, coral, and polar bears.
Addressing the UN Greta Thunberg, a sixteen year old climate activist said, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and the fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Even though climate change will most likely be the end of our species, there are a few solutions. Jay Inslee once said, “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change and we are the last generation that can do something about it.”
The first solution is mitigation. Mitigation is trying to avoid human interference with the atmosphere. Some examples may include using electric cars or growing more trees. The second is adaptation. Adaptation means adjusting to life on our changing planet. The goal of adaptation is to reduce vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change. You can think of the solutions as rolling with the punches compared to escaping the fight altogether.
Since the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, we are the ones who need to act. If our generation ignores the effects of climate change, a dystopian future will rapidly become a dystopian reality.