After all the denying, all the greed, and all the damage, the world has officially crossed the line. This past September has been the only September on record where carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has exceeded 400 parts per million. Why is this a problem? Here’s why: This time of year is supposed to have the lowest level of carbon emissions, and this year, the lowest just got higher. Because we’re measuring past the 400 parts per million threshold, levels won't be lower at any other point this year — or ever again in our lifetime.

Even if everyone were to plant a tree, we all stopped using fossil fuels completely, and deforestation was banned, there is no feasible way to remove the large amounts of carbon that have already been put into the atmosphere. The 400 parts per million threshold is very symbolic, and people should begin to pay attention to it. We have now passed the level that is scientifically accepted to be safe, which is actually quite scary. Despite the words of any politicians, temperatures continue to rise with no sign of stopping.

If you’re thinking ‘why should I care about climate change?’, I counter by asking ‘Why shouldn’t you?!’. The very planet on which you live is quickly becoming worse and worse, and many people don’t seem to care. The oceans are becoming acidic; yes, you read that correctly. Animals are changing their breeding seasons in order to respond to weather. Beautiful glaciers are melting day by day, not only rising sea levels but also robbing you and future generations of the ability to witness their beauty. Animals are going extinct due to changes in their habitats. Natural disasters are killing more people than you can imagine. All of these things are occurring due to climate change.

It’s time for people to decide to do good. Speak your voice and make a difference. Leave the world in a condition that your children and their children would love. Most importantly, respect the Earth; you share this planet with roughly 7.4 billion people, so hold up your end. There may be no going back after crossing the 400 ppm threshold, but we have the ability to reduce and stop future damage.