Don’t forget global warming; make a change in climate
Severe droughts, cold winters and melting glaciers are now the reality our world — the effects of climate change are even more vast than expected.
In a recent climate change report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of certain “irreversible” impacts of climate change, which are likely to occur if carbon emissions weren’t aggressively cut by the end of the century.
Human beings are the cause of these carbon emissions. The main human activity that emits CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels. The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that “the main sources of CO2 emissions in the United States are for electricity, transportation and industry.”
Carbon dioxide sticks around in the atmosphere for a long time, and scientists have estimated that up to 80 percent of carbon dioxide that goes into the air is absorbed back out within a few centuries, but the other 20 percent could stick around in the atmosphere for millennia.
This long carbon life cycle is vital because it means that the increase in global temperatures from these greenhouse gasses is effectively permanent, and the rising climate will continue to alter our ecosystems in various ways.
“Sea-level rise is one of the most serious and well-documented effects of climate change,” said Business Insider science reporter Chelsea Harvey. “Warming temperatures cause ice in the world’s Polar Regions to melt, where it runs into the ocean and causes the seas to swell.”
The increase of salt water in our oceans has devastating impacts to our world at unstoppable rates, and since the warming of our earth can’t be reversed, neither can the melting of the ice caps.
Rising sea levels have the ability to contaminate drinking water, interfere with farming, change coastal plant life and threaten wildlife populations.
According to the Houston Chronicle, “as the rising ocean erodes the shoreline and floods the areas in which coastal animals live, animals like shorebirds and sea turtles will suffer.”
Not only will this issue affect animals that have great importance to our earth, but it will hurt the economy in the world as well.
“The tourism and real-estate industries in coastal areas are likely to take a hit as prime beachfront properties and recreational areas are washed away by rising waters,” Harvey said.
Students should become more aware of the current environmental position the world is at and consider the drastic changes that are ahead.
Climate change is inevitably one of the most complex issues we are facing today, and it involves many dimensions. Because we are already committed to some level of climate change, responding to this change involves a specific approach.
According to research done by NASA, “reducing emissions of and stabilizing the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mitigation), and adapting to the climate change already in the pipeline (adaptation)” are two approaches humans need to take.
For thousands of years, the rise and fall of civilizations have been the effects of climate change. The faster and harder the climate change, the harder it will be to adapt.
Blessed with technology, our generations have not seen such a drastic change in the environment, but that does not mean that it shouldn’t be a matter of concern.
The more aware students become, and the more valid information we can expose to reveal the truth about our dying environment, the more we can act as a society to make a difference.
The government only responds if enough people are involved — if it turns into a revolution. Blissful ignorance will only prosper for a short period of time.
As shown in Business Insider, if all the ice melts in the world, sea levels will rise 216 feet and drown some of the continent’s major cities — including Houston.
Change has to start somewhere, even if it starts with one person. Our generation has the power to change the future, to save several species from extinction, to aid the economy and to make a difference for the world.
The time for change was yesterday, so what are we waiting for?
Opinion columnist Rebekah Barquero is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]