I'm going to be honest with you: this article was hard for me to write. It took a heavy dose of reality and a lot of deep thought for me to form the right words regarding climate change. Climate change is a large and complex issue with many different sides and arguments. No matter what words people write or say, there will always be one person who will deny the scientific evidence of climate change. There will be people who will continue to believe that climate change is a conspiracy theory and others who simply believe that it is a thing the world should not be concerned about, that it is supposed to happen.
We need to talk more about climate change. I never realized how little I was educated about climate change until I got to college. During the first semester of my freshman year, I took a plant biology course. It's pretty customary that with biology comes talk of climate change. However, the talks we had in this course about climate change were like nothing I really ever have heard before. We talked about the overwhelming effects climate change has already had and will have on our planet if we do nothing. More importantly, though, we talked about what would happen to our planet if we took action and initiative to slow the effects. Our professor showed us the documentary "Before the Flood." This powerful piece highlights the causes of climate change, what initiatives are being put in place throughout the world, and what we need to do as a human race to slow the effects of climate change.
Not only did we talk about climate change in my biology class, but we also talked about it in my English class. In the past, issues with the Earth were only discussed in science classes like biology or geology. The fact that climate change is now a topic of discussion in humanity courses like English is something to make note of. It shows that we are coming to realize how we have been lacking as a society to discuss our changing climate and its consequences.
Some of the consequences are impending, and some are already occurring. According to the documentary I mentioned earlier, "Before the Flood," our world has already seen a 1.5 degrees Celcius increase in temperature because of carbon pollution. This may not seem like a big deal, but these few degrees have led to the ice caps melting at a rate that will make them disappear within the next decade. Along with this, sea levels have been rising three times faster than two decades previously. We have also seen the oceans becoming more acidic, likely to double over the next century, which means more and more marine life will be killed. The jet streams, which are the air patterns that typically drive where weather patterns will head, are becoming trapped, which leads to more polar vortexes and extreme weather. Going along with weather patterns, hurricanes are becoming more intense because of the warming ocean waters, and because there has been a 70 percent increase of downpours in the northern United States, rivers are more likely to flood. The opposite, however, is happening to some other rivers. There are rivers out in the Western part of the United States, like the Colorado River, that are disappearing because of droughts and increasing temperatures.
These are the effects we are already seeing just in the United States. In the future, we can expect to see even more droughts throughout the entire world, not just in the Sahara or deserts. Acute diseases, like asthma and allergies, will become deadly due to air quality worsening. Not to mention, diseases we haven't seen in centuries, like the bubonic plague, may resurface. Heat waves will become more prominent, which will lead to even more droughts. Access to food and water will likely decrease due to a third of the farmland that produces meats, vegetables, grains, etc. being dried out by the end of the century. The wildfires we are experiencing out in the Western United States are likely to become more uncontrollable, causing the government to spend more tax dollars toward fixing these natural disasters. Economic collapses, cities becoming flooded, wars and conflicts, species and ecosystems disappearing... the list of what we could encounter in the future goes on and on.
All of these effects seem terrifying, and they are. From what you just read, it may look like our world is doomed and that there is no hope, yet there is! By talking more openly about climate change, we can help slow or prevent these scary effects. To help our environment, we don't have to do big elaborate tasks. We can do little things, like recycling, walking or biking to a destination instead of driving, eating more chicken or turkey instead of beef, using less plastic, and/or taking shorter showers.
We haven't been talking enough about climate change, but that is changing. The effects of climate change are scary; it puts an idea in our head that makes it seem that there is no hope for our future. But because of conversation and discussion, there is hope for our world. The Paris Climate Agreement has had top leaders of various nations coming together and discussing solutions for climate change and for our planet.
Try to have more conversations with your friends, your family, or classmates about climate change. It may seem awkward to talk about climate change out of nowhere (and it kinda is), but try to incorporate it into discussions somehow. Encourage others to take cleaner practices to their daily routines and encourage them to keep the conversation going with people they know. Little things like talking to others can, and will, make all of the lasting difference for our world.
Make this Earth Day more than just a day where you look at the pretty trees and flowers. Make it a day where you work to save the pretty trees and flowers around you.