Climate change: we need to act fast

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Climate change: we need to act fast

Denis Burden/ Shutterstock

Denis Burden/ Shutterstock

Denis Burden/ Shutterstock

Mary Gillon, Opinions Editor

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In recent years, climate change has been a hot topic among many; some advocating for action to further prevent its effects, and some claiming it to be a hoax.

One of these climate change deniers happens to be the president of the United States. In 2016, Trump said “[Climate change] is done for the benefit of China.” He later rescinded this statement, but actions speak louder than words. In August of 2017, Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Agreement which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. With the US’s withdrawal, it is only one of very few nations not participating.

Non-believers of climate change, like Trump and his administration, claim that global warming is a natural occurrence. They are not necessarily wrong; Earth does have natural climatic cycles, but according to NASA, it is claimed that the current warming trend is 95% likely to have been caused by human activity. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have increased by over 400% since 1950 according to the Committee on Climate Change. In the 18th century, atmospheric CO2 was at 280 parts per million, but in the 21st century, the atmosphere now holds over 400 ppm. CO2 has a high heat-trapping rate, being one of the main greenhouse gases. Through thermal combustion from burning fossil fuels, natural gases, and coal, the compound is produced. There is now so much CO2 in the atmosphere that planting trees can no longer drastically reduce the amount of it

Between 1993 and 2016, 2016 being Earth’s hottest year on record, 127 billion tons of ice melted per year in Antarctica, resulting in thermal expansion, sea level rise, and habitat loss for arctic animals.

Scientists have warned that there is a small window that humans can use to prevent drastic and irreversible effects of climate change, and there are ways that you can help to save our only home.

It may sound cliche, but nothing can make a dramatic stop in climate change if we don’t all contribute our efforts. First and foremost, cutting out a fair amount of meat– mainly red meat — consumption from your weekly diet can cause a substantial decrease in CO2 levels. According to the Guardian, red meat uses 28 times the amount of land during production than pork and chicken does, 11 times the amount of water, and five times the greenhouse gas emissions. I personally am a vegetarian, but by no means am I forcing anyone to “convert,” although I strongly encourage it in order to reduce your carbon footprint.

I may be biased, but driving a fuel efficient car can also help the environment. After all, I am an expert since I drive a hearty Prius that gets 46 miles per gallon. Obviously one person driving a Prius, electric or hybrid car won’t make a huge difference, but if the market for electric cars became a more popular idea and the cars looked more attractive (and affordable in some cases), there could be a heavy drop in CO2 levels. For some unbeknownst reason, I receive so much hate on my Prius, but guess who doesn’t have to fill their gas tank every week?

Many don’t take climate change in a serious light, claiming that it doesn’t matter what we do because we’ll be dead by the time serious effects come around. The “serious effects” are already here. Arctic animals are facing near-extinction due to glacial and habitat loss, wildfires and hurricanes have ravaged the country only in the past couple of years, countries like Bangladesh are slowly going underwater, as well as health problems likes cancers and breathing complications affecting communities. For those who claim this problem to be a hoax: open your eyes. The problems are very clearly present and we need to put forth all efforts to preserve the planet for future generations to come.