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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Columns

Leaders need to take action to fix climate change


A recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA confirms that the last three years have been the hottest on record.

In an interview with NPR, Deke Arndt, the National Climate Extremes Committee Chair, explained, “The long-term warming is driven almost entirely by greenhouse gases. We’ve seen a warming trend related to greenhouse gases for four, five, six decades now.”

The evidence is clear. The climate is changing and greenhouse gases are warming the world. There are negative consequences for the future of the planet as sea levels rise and global temperatures affect food production.

Neither political party, whether in denial of or accepting global warming, has acted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, for the last 20 years U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have remained at or above 6 billion metric tons per year. This type of intergovernmental gridlock stems from the lack of acceptance on human impact upon the climate.  

The newly confirmed head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, acknowledged that “human activity plays ‘some’ role in the changing climate.” In his confirmation hearing, Scott Pruitt said the extent to which man can alleviate climate change is subject to more debate. He cited economic growth as his primary goal. 

Though economic arguments are cited to prevent dramatic changes to energy policies, the sea levels continue to rise. The devastating effects of climate change continue to plague the planet. As natural disasters and extreme weather patterns continue to increase, it seems that our leaders continue to put economic gain above taking care of the planet.

This inability to care for the planet indicates a moral flaw within the collective psyche of our leaders. How can something that is clearly true be the cause of such unanimous inaction?

While our leaders are, at least partially, a reflection of our own values, this type of inaction is forthcoming of the moral laxity of our time. Do we really care about our environment? Does it matter if our children live on an uninhabitable planet? While our words may or may not agree acknowledge the truth, our inaction has negatively impacted the planet and will continue to harm it for years to come.

As we individually play our part in reducing carbon emissions, we can only hope our own actions can affect our leadership enough to enact some meaningful change, regardless of political party. Lest we walk in the ways of our leaders, whose words differ from their deeds.

Opinion columnist Adib Shafipour is a biochemistry sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]

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