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Where Are We Now With Climate Change?

Megan Hayes | News Editor

Do you believe in climate change? It tends to be a heated debate with many - what is actually science and what is not is often discussed, and there is a sense of “taboo” around it. Climate change often is presented as a vague threat to us, such that the responsibility of the issue at hand gets dispersed, and it gets brushed right off the shoulders of those who consume the media. If the change is so small that we can’t really notice it, we must be fine, right?

  Despite this not seeming like a very urgent issue, or one that will even affect us in this lifetime, it is scientifically confirmed: climate change is very real and it is something we in fact should worry about. Climate change is caused by us, and our daily activities. Although the brunt of the issue can point fingers at large companies that burn fossil fuels, have toxic industrial processes, and dump chemicals, there is still a large segment of the responsibility that falls on us as everyday citizens. Common practices like driving vehicles, cutting down forests, and creating electricity via alternative means all contribute to production of greenhouse gasses, which are slowly warming our planet. 

Greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and more are in the lower atmosphere surrounding Earth, and manage the temperature of our environments. If we were not to have greenhouse gasses, the temperature of the Earth would quickly drop down to around -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), quickly leaving us in barely livable conditions. A delicate balance has to be maintained with these gasses, which absorb heat from the sun and trap heat, warming us up. However, since the natural balance of these gasses is being disrupted, the mass production of greenhouse gasses is causing severe environmental crises like extreme weather events, wildfires, melting of polar ice caps, and disruptions in food supply. Since 1880, our temperature on Earth has been becoming increasingly warmer by 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, which puts us at a whole 2 degrees (F) warmer than we used to be (NOAA Climate). Although this seems miniscule, it has already begun to severely throw off the balance of nature, as well as affect our lives by longer heat waves, loss of sea ice, and rising sea levels. 

So, what can we do? Where are we now with this issue? According to the 5th National Climate Assessment, conducted by the U.S. Global Research Program and member agencies, the United States’ temperature is rising much quicker than any other nation across the planet. We can see the effects causing more wildfires, more rain, stronger hurricanes, more insect-borne diseases, flooding, brownouts, and raising temperatures so high that fences, tires and pools are melting to the ground. In response to this, President Biden allocated $6 million dollars to strengthen the electric grid and production in the United States, come up with new alternatives of carbon-free energy, and assist those in places affected by climate change. The NCA5 report urges Americans to make deeper changes and to “do more, faster” to protect the planet, and has set up our government to meet in the United Arab Emirates for the United Nations climate talks towards the end of November. It has been said by the NCA5 that we are “insufficient” in our efforts thus far, as the funding has been allocated by the conquering and action behind the issue is still looking lackluster.ccee

What we can do as everyday citizens can range from small to large changes - turning lights off when you leave rooms, recycling, using clean sources of energy, and being mindful of oil usage. The key to helping this issue is to urge change, both in smaller and wider spectrums, as we are on the brink of irreparable damage and an inability to fix the harm we have caused.  Although our Earth won’t be uninhabitable until about 250 million years from now, the health effects we are experiencing now from climate change are causing unnecessary death and harm, which is why this requires our attention now. 

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