When you hear the word climate change, what do you think of? Hot summers? Rising oceans? Angry politicians? Hullabaloo? Whatever thought may pop into your head, I want to start this article by making a strong and clear statement: Climate change is real, is human-driven, and is scarier than you think.
The science is undoubtedly there, and truly, the concept of climate change really isn't all that difficult when examined in its most basic terms. In the simplest sense, climate change is the result of an increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere from carbon emissions on our planet, mainly coming from the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
Now, that basic fact is one that has yet to be accepted by a vastly wide group of people throughout the world. And an even smaller percentage among that group that has accepted it actually understand the true severity of the problem. Now, how can it be that so many people are seemingly 'unaware' of this international problem? Do people truly just not understand science?
Turns out, science isn't the problem. As scientists increasingly became aware of the negative impacts of growing industry on the environment, they started to tell corporations that it was time to turn the switch off. But corporations decided they liked how things were going despite the environmental consequences their actions posed, and ignored science, focused on exponential growth, and began to promote anti-climate change propaganda. It is important to note that this anti-climate change rhetoric stems in vast majority from the American Conservative Party, resulting in the heavy polarization and politicization of climate change. This heavy propaganda led citizens in the United States to believe that the problems can't be that bad when the life we're living today is so good! But it turns out, the problems are actually that bad, and we're just too privileged in the United States to see it with our own eyes.
People in the global south, or developing world, are going to be hit first, and the worst, by climate change. Small island nations will be swallowed by rising sea levels, impoverished countries will suffer from drought and famine. The nations with the smallest voices, and with the least amount of an impact on the acceleration of climate change, will suffer the most. It is easy to ignore when we're sitting in our air-conditioned homes in the United States, right?
The science is as true as the sky is blue, climate change is happening, and it is time for action, now. There was not a success with our higher political leaders at the Earth Summit in Rio, or with the Kyoto Protocol, or with the Paris Climate Agreement. It is time to stop wasting time, and time to get serious. As humans continue to destroy the planet, we will quickly realize that we are, in turn, destroying ourselves. Is that really what we want for the future of humankind?
Happy Earth Day.