Whenever I hear someone say, "I don't believe in climate change" I want to roll my eyes so far back in my head that I'll never see them again. Maybe this is dramatic, but it literally pains me inside to think that people are so convinced by politicians who are extremely unqualified to talk about climate change. I took a class about climate change, which probably makes me more qualified than Scott Pruitt, Trump's choice for head of the EPA, to talk about it. Seeing all the ways we are ruining our climate is scaring me- I mean just a week ago it was 60 degrees in February.
I don't know everything about climate change. I'm only a freshman in college and I'm almost certainly not a science major. However, what I do know is extremely frightening.
1. We are increasing our greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide
We are releasing fossil fuels in all kinds of ways- the biggest being cars, busses, factories, and non-renewable electricity. This is creating a growth of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as well as deforestation.
2. Global temperatures are rising
While increasing these heat-trapping greenhouse gasses, our planet is trapping more of the heat entering its atmosphere instead of sending it back into space. This is warming our planet significantly. We may not notice it everyday, but the warm weather in February, the earlier onset of warm weather, and the higher frequency of warmer days is attributed to this increased global temperature.
3. Ice is melting
With the rise in temperature, especially at higher latitudes, more of the ice on our planet is melting. This is where that picture of the polar bear on the small piece of sea ice comes from. As we're melting more sea ice and ice sheets (Greenland and Antartica) we are not only destroying the habitat for arctic animals, but we are making so that that ice can no longer reflect as much sunlight, warming the Earth even more.
4. Sea level is rising
As a result of sea ice and ice sheets melting, the sea level is rising around the world. Certain areas are experiencing more sea level rise than others, like Washington D.C. If we keep up the rate of warming we have now, one day people located inland will have beachfront homes.
5. Oceans are warming
While our planet warms, as does our ocean as the ocean has an extremely high capacity to store heat. This sounds good- that the ocean is taking up heat that would otherwise be in our atmosphere, but in reality because of this, we are seeing coral bleaching. Remember that whole story about the coral reef dying? Yup, that is happening- coral hold in algae which gives them their color, and as water warms, they can no longer hold this algae, so they expel it and loose their color in exchange.
These are not the only things happening with climate change, there are a myriad of other things that are happening with climate change, including species migration and increased intensity of storms.
I can't understand how people don't understand climate change is real- we see all these things happening around us that are directly caused by our emissions of greenhouse gasses. Sometimes I think it's too late to actually do anything about it- the effect of the carbon we have released will last for years to come, but there are so many things we can take that will help our planet out a little more. The first thing to do though is acknowledge that climate change is real and that we have to try living more sustainably- using reusable water bottles, avoiding carbon-emitting transportation when possible, and making sure we recycle are simple steps we can take every day to try to reduce our own carbon footprint.
To find out more about how to reduce your carbon footprint visit: https://carbonfund.org/reduce/