Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert in environmentalism. I am simply someone who cares deeply about these issues, and have been researching issues concerning climate change for 5+ years now. I hope to come back to this blog post soon and add more to it + provide more resources. Thanks for reading!
What is climate change?
Simply put, climate change refers to a change in global climate patterns. We have seen large changes due to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. Despite all of the scientific evidence backing it up, some people still argue that humans could not possibly contribute to climate change.
But here is a snippet from the recent IPCC report that was published in 2018: “A.1. Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming5 above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence)”1
So, the most distinguished bodies in science are telling us that:
a) climate change IS real
b) it is happening now, and is predicted to worsen
c) it CAN be affected by human activities.
Why is it important?
This may sound basic, but we only have one earth. We are already seeing incredible changes in the climate. We are seeing increased rain and flooding in many parts of the world, and it is projected to worsen if we stay on this path. We are seeing increased numbers of forest fires. We are seeing costal erosion. Polar ice caps are melting, which increases not only the sea level but also the temperature of the water.
And you may be thinking: “Yeah, but all of that crazy stuff is happening far away from me.” Wrong. If you are reading this you are probably a Louisiana native. And Louisiana’s coast is fading away quickly.
The maps above come from a recent New Yorker article titled “Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast.” Give it a read, especially if you live here.
What might the world look like if we don’t do anything about it?
Not only will we see the destruction of the environment itself, but human kind is also at stake. We could potentially be setting ourselves up for excessive rain/flooding, abnormal occurrences of hurricanes/tornados/cyclones, crop destruction, massive land loss, ocean warming, war, etc. It is hard to actually visualize what this all might be like, however.
The fiction novel American War really helped to put this all into perspective to me. As someone who has been very aware of climate change for years, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and the statistics. This book helps to connect the dots between human activity and climate change. It also presents a pretty scary possibility of a second Civil War happening here in America, essentially rising up as a result of the South being unwilling to change their destructive ways.
Much like the maps shown in the earlier section from the New Yorker, this fictional map found in American War shows the massive costal erosion that had occurred at the time the story was taking place. Not only was Louisiana affected, but you can see that almost all of Florida is gone.
What can we actually do about it?
We can vote for politicians who believe in and care about climate change. Because they are the ones who are making/signing off on bills and laws, and can push for carbon taxes.
We can decrease/eliminate our consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs. Because animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of greenhouse emissions, and it has been for years.
We can decrease/eliminate our consumption of palm oil containing products. Because palm oil production is one of the largest contributors to deforestation.
We can decrease/eliminate our use of single use plastics. Because plastic does not decompose. It will either end up in a landfill or an ocean. In a landfill it could take thousands of years to even somewhat degrade, and then the fragments will contaminate our soils. and water.
We can aim to recycle and compost. Because sometimes we can’t avoid plastic. But recycling is not the solution.
We can aim to reduce/eliminate our use of automobiles and walk/bike instead. Automobiles, trains, planes all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, but again sometimes these are unavoidable. But if you are able, try walking or public transit!
I could go on. There are so many small things that we can do, that really do add up. But I cannot control what other people do at the end of the day. We cannot always force people to do something even if it is the “right” thing to do. We can only control what we vote, for, consume, and promote. And for the sake of the future earth, I can only hope that everyone will take a stand along with me.
1. IPCC, 2018: Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M. I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press. (https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/)