Climate change

Despite What Trump Believes, Climate Change Is Coming For Us

It's time we face the reality that is global warming.


Let me start off by saying that I like to stay fairly moderate and unbiased when it comes to talking about political issues. In my opinion, climate change is definitely one topic that should be bipartisan but unfortunately is not.

Recently, Donald Trump was asked about the current climate report that was put together by both US governmental agencies and other departments regarding potential impacts climate change will have on our country, both economically and environmentally.

He stated in the interview that he doesn't "believe" the impacts climate change will have on the world and that our country is the cleanest it has ever been.

Although it would be amazing if our country was the cleanest it has ever been, that is sadly not the case, and it won't be unless we make major changes.

I've had the opportunity to take a course at my university this semester solely focused on climate change, which has provided me with evidence to back up my previous thoughts about this issue. While most people won't understand temperature anomalies and climate modeling and how they relate to global warming, the main takeaway from the course is that climate change is already upon us, and it's coming quicker than we think.

Many people that don't believe in climate change don't understand that weather and climate are two different things. Just because it's cold outside during the fall doesn't mean global warming is gone, and just because one summer day happens to be 107 degrees in Colorado doesn't mean global warming is in full effect either. We really have to look at data over extended periods of time to see the impacts.

Because of Trump's ideas to pull us out of the Paris Agreement, which deals with climate change, and his obvious lack of urgency towards protecting our environment, we're in more danger than ever. Granted, this doesn't mean that tomorrow Miami is going to disappear from the United States, but the long-term effects will be huge on our earth.

Climate change can be hard to recognize because it's easy to define it as "just a forest fire" or a "small decrease in polar bears." It's the little things that add up. Australia, Ecuador, Malaysia, and, yes, the United States are the four countries that are prone to adding more species to the list of animals that are going to go extinct in the near future.

Hurricanes are becoming a lot more consistent. Monsoons in India and Africa are intensifying. Fires are becoming more prevalent from the lack of precipitation in desert climates. Our sea levels are projected to rise by at least half a meter by 2100. These things may not impact you and you may not believe them, but that definitely isn't going to stop them from occurring and changing the lives of millions.

We're already in the midst of a period of intense global climate change. We shouldn't be arguing over which countries are "cleaner" and which are "dirtier." Pretty much every country, but especially the more affluent ones, are producing greenhouse emissions, and let me tell you, climate change isn't going to pick and choose which countries to affect. Global warming is not a competition.

From the forest fires in California to the hurricanes on the East Coast to the reality that the overall temperature of Earth has increased by 1 degree Celsius, we have to start identifying these occurrences as what they really are: a change in our climate due to our carelessness towards our planet.

Unless we as humans make changes in how we treat our environment, our environment is going to continue to change the way we as humans live our lives.

Although it may take governmental power to combat the current climate change, we can try our hardest as everyday people to fix it. I'm sure the future generations would appreciate our consideration.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?


When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

Cover Image Credit:

Vinicius Amano


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Being Sustainable Is Hard But It's Not Impossible

Although we've all heard of climate change and have witnessed the disastrous effects that humans have had on the environment, it still seems like most people are not subscribing to the ideals of sustainability.


Sustainability is a tricky term. Most people that hear about it eventually put in the back of their minds, the same place they put "student loans" and "crippling depression." Most people know that to adhere to this ideal would mean to change how they live.

Sustainability is about adopting behaviors and systems that will ensure that the Earth is around for many generations after ours. Sustainability aims to preserve the Earth in terms of seven generations ahead. Seven generations after ours and societies on Earth will be using entirely different systems than what we do now, therefore, we should start this process now to ensure that they will be able to live comfortably and sustainably.

This is where most people tune out, understandably so. It's hard for us to think about the implications of our actions and how they will affect life on Earth much after our own deaths. It suddenly seems like an incomprehensible problem that no one person can ever solve.

"My actions won't make a difference," most people say, convinced that just because they stop eating meat or buying plastic or start drinking from paper straws, that nothing will change. However, what they fail to consider is how their actions will influence the minds of others around them, and one person who stops eating meat or using plastic sends a ripple effect through the people surrounding them. One person making lifestyle changes in the name of sustainability leads others to suddenly consider, "maybe I should eat less meat?" or "maybe I won't use single-use plastics anymore?"

The idea is not that any one person picking up plastic on the beach is going to save the planet, but rather that through education and awareness, we will all take small steps to preserve our home. Large groups of people all taking small steps leads to big changes, and politics and the economy will follow the demand of the people.

The most difficult thing for most people to do is to adopt those small behavioral changes. Not everyone can afford to stop eating meat, but everyone can afford to opt out of single-use plastics. Buying a personal water bottle is one easy way to do this. Stop buying plastic water bottles just to throw them away. If you need to buy them, make sure to recycle them. Instead of taking plastic silverware and straws from restaurants, bring your own reusable set.

Understandably, most of you are already cringing. It's hard to go against the grain and commit to living a plastic-free lifestyle for the sake of sustainability. And what about when you go to Chipotle with your zero-waste kit and somebody asks you a question about why you have that? Fear or convincing themselves that it's "inconvenient" will keep most of you from adopting these little changes that, over time, make a huge difference in the amount of plastic we put in our oceans.

Although we can't all be leaders of huge sustainability efforts to clean our oceans or buy an electric car, we can all make small changes to mitigate this tragic problem. On our current track, the last half of our lives will be starkly different from the first half, for the worse. Educate yourself and be part of the solution instead of the problem.

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