Hear me out. I'm sure you've viewed at least one of those 30-second educational videos on the effect of climate change and the dangers of the increasing amount of waste accumulating in our world, all posted by everyone and their grandmother. But here's the thing: these videos need to be taken seriously, and the results of our actions are becoming more and more prevalent, more realistic than they've ever been.
1. Temperatures are Rising
It's no secret that Earth's temperatures are rising daily. Evidence of this is found in the constant reports of ice caps and glaciers melting, as well as numerous reports from NASA illustrating temperatures increasing rapidly during the fall and summer months in a matter of 25 to 100 years. The overall increase in temperature has, and will continue to, lead to an increase in drought periods and heat waves across all nations. In my own experience, while living in California, I've noticed our wildfire seasons beginning to increase in length and intensity. During this past summer, a fire started in Holy Jim, a canyon just miles outside of my community. This wildfire lasted for just over a couple of months and obliterated over 22,000 acres of land, consuming over 20 structures, including an elementary school and numerous homes. In my 18 years of living in the same community, I have never encountered such an intense fire, and many officials have stated that the root of the problem is the increase of temperatures and overall increase in dryness of the area.
2. Our Trash is Piling Up
Another obvious problem occuring in our world today is waste production. Whether it's found in landfills or floating in the middle of the ocean (yes, very true and extremely disturbing), our trash production levels are dangerously high and only expanding at this rate. The World Bank has predicted that by the year 2025, our trash production will double. If this doesn't sound threatening enough, which it most certainly should, this would mean that our daily trash production will jump from 3.5 million tons to 6 million tons. They've also released reports stating that our peak garbage production levels won't become a reality until around 2100, but at that point we will be producing over 11 million tons of trash per day. Now, if you're anything like me, you're wondering what advancements are being made to help alleviate this trash issue. Thankfully, developed nations, like the United States, have been aiming efforts to make recycling easier for the average American. In 2015, New York City (yay!) centred one of its developments around recycling and built pneumatic trash tubes to allow residents to have more access to recycling facilities.
3. Our Impact on Other Forms of Life
The final aspect of climate change and waste production that I wanted to cover in this article is the effect our careless actions are having on wildlife. One fact that I've discovered through my research on this topic is that our planet is experiencing its sixth wave of mass extinction. Its primary cause? Human activity: i.e. habitat destruction, fossil fuel emissions, etc. Many facts and figures have stated that 99 percent of current endangered species are at risk due to our actions. This is also leading to a domino effect of the loss of other species because of the complexity of the ecological food web. For example, the destruction of coral reefs, primarily due to overfishing, tourism, and the presence of chemicals, will lead to the extinction of numerous species, such as the butterflyfish, spiny lobsters, whales, dolphins, whale sharks, and hawksbill sea turtles. Scientists also predict that over 6,300 known species of amphibians are at risk of extinction, which is a result of habitat loss, air and water pollution, and disease. As a final note, scientists have concluded that over 90 percent of primates currently reside in tropical rainforests, which are being destroyed at a rate of 150 acres, every minute, per day.
Though this article covers just a sliver of the issues our world is facing and these facts and figures may seem impossible to overcome, there is hope for our world. Just through being more conservative with our resources and finding ways to lessen our waste production, we will be able to recover from our mistakes and use what we have learned to educate future generations.