Written by Ben Ghiano

It’s pretty easy to see.

Climate change is real and it’s happening now. When I say climate change some people just think, “Okay, it’s getting a little warmer and that's fine because I love summer.” Well the problem is, there’s more to it than a little heat spike. You may not see it right where you live, but elsewhere in the world the symptoms of climate change are very evident. Islands are disappearing in the Pacific due to rising sea levels; hurricanes are more frequent and far more destructive; the world’s largest desert, the Sahara is growing while the world’s largest rain forest, the Amazon is shrinking; and the world’s glaciers and ice shelves are receding. The list could go on and on with what kind of damage we’re doing.

Here is where you’d expect me to present you with a bunch of facts and figures, but I’ll save myself the trouble and have you Google-Image all the pictures of the aforementioned.

We have a beautiful world and I’m sure anyone could spend hours looking through photos of the Patagonian mountain range, aerial views of the Nile and the beaches of Southern Pacific Islands, though in a few years those places will be nothing more than pictures. If you’ve ever been to a national park, then you know some of the most stunning places on earth are in our own backyard. If you've seen the Grand Canyon, then you know the pictures just don't do it justice to how enormous and awe-inspiring it really is.

But it is not just about the beautiful earth that we’re destroying, instead it's about the many people who lose their homes to hurricanes or their children to Zika and Malaria viruses found in the rising mosquito population. At home, Californians are suffering from the longest and harshest drought in decades, the people of Flint, Michigan are drinking poisoned waters, and thousands of Texans are forced to clean the millions of gallons of spilled oil. The effects are endless and the fact of the matter is we can absolutely do something about it.

I’m not going to propose anything radical here either as you might expect of a climate enthusiast. All I’m asking is that we consider the effects of our choices. The little things really make a difference. No one is saying that you need to get rid of your car in place of a Tesla. As nice as that would be, it’s unreasonable right now. Instead, turn off your engine when you are sitting in a parking lot. Buy products that domestically sourced and food grown by sustainable practices. Kill the lights when you leave a room or even plant a tree on Earth Day.

The fact that anyone can deny climate change is absurd to me. How can anyone miss what is staring us in the face? Yet, many of our politicians and leaders in the United States, including our new president and his right-wing cabinet, say they don’t believe in climate change. If you take 9,999 scientists who say, “climate change is real and it’s because of us,” you cannot say convince anyone that the only correct scientist is the one who works for an oil company claiming the change isn’t drastic and that it is a natural process. They’re lying to you and some of us have been fooled for too long.

The most important thing we can do is elect officials who believe in progress and will vote against policies allowing environmental destruction. People can say there are bigger problems that are affecting our country, and I have to agree that we have some serious issues. The fact of the matter is that the issue of climate change is so treatable. If you’re itching to make a bigger difference invest in companies like Elon Musk’s Tesla and Solar City that are turning to renewable resources. You can also work with your municipal and state governments to pass policies protecting our environment and take part in a rally for change. Just because we’re young, it doesn't mean that we are not the generation of change and progress.

With our current leaders, the environmental issues will be put on the backburner and we do have to fight to keep them in the forefront. Climate change is not going anywhere and it is not something we can just leave for the next generation to solve. We have the capability to solve the issue at hand. Ultimately, we have to eliminate the belief that this huge problem is a myth and I’m urging you to spread the word to your friends and parents. If we do not, our environment, our neighbors, and our world as we know it will never be the same.