Everything you should know about climate change

Amaya Rothrock, Editor-In-Chief

Climate change is an ongoing problem in the world today as the Earth continues to warm more and more each year. Climate change can be seen today through the ongoing California wildfires, intense heat waves, and drastic sea levels rising. 

During a General Assembly meeting about climate and sustainable development for the United Nations (UN) on March 28, 2019, General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés claimed that there are 11 years left until there is irreversible climate change. How can we fix this problem before it’s too late? How can we see climate change? Where’s the proof? 

There is an abundance of evidence to show that climate change is happening. NASA lists many different effects of climate change that are all interlinked. The Earth’s average surface temperature has increased by nearly 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit since the nineteenth century because of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the warmest period in history has been the past 40 years, with 2016 being the warmest year so far and ¾ of the months in 2016 was the warmest for each month in history. 

NASA also states that the ocean is also warming and has had a temperature increase of 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. There has been a loss of about 279 billion tons of ice per year in Greenland and 148 billion tons of ice in Antarctica from 1993-2019, leading to sea levels rising. Climate change has caused the ocean to experience an increase of acidity since the Industrial Revolution and has absorbed 20-30% of carbon dioxide emissions, leading to the killing of species such as coral. But why is this happening? What is causing climate change?

Sadly, we are the reason climate change is occurring. According to NASA, human activity creates what are called greenhouse gases, gases that absorb and emit heat. They become trapped in the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect, and cause the Earth to warm over time. Water vapor is the most prominent greenhouse gas because it increases as the atmosphere warms. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is another greenhouse gas that has a large impact because it is widely released into the atmosphere through deforestation and the usage of fossil fuels. Other greenhouse gases include methane, which is a common gas released through waste (landfills), livestock, agriculture, and nitrous oxide that is emitted into the atmosphere through soil management and fertilizers. So, what is the big deal? 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes many different aspects of life’s essentials that are being majorly affected by climate change. Water resources are being impacted because some areas are facing large floods while others are facing droughts. There is also less snow in many places where snow is used to store water. The food we have will face difficulties because the different weather patterns are being manipulated, making it a challenge to farm. Health is a major component that will suffer as a result of climate change because of a potential increase of waterborne diseases due to precipitation increase, poor air-quality will occur as a result of the greenhouse effect, and there can be an increase of heat stress. The environment is a factor that will be hit the hardest because the oceans are absorbing much of the gases, such as 30% of CO₂ causing acidity. The sea level is continuously rising as ice melts and oceans are expanding as they warm. Organisms suffer as the environment constantly changes to adapt. Life’s systems are being rapidly harmed by climate change, how can we help?

There are many ways people can contribute to help fix the problem before it’s too late. One easy way is by simply being educated about the problem and raising awareness. Many people don’t understand the many problems that come with the Earth warming, so it is important to help inform others about the problem. Be aware of the amount of electricity you use. Try to reduce the amount of driving you to do by carpooling or walking to places that are a short distance away, use fewer animal products, and reduce water waste. National Geographic states that businesses can make a large difference by integrating waste management and agricultural efficiency by using solar panels and wind turbines to produce electricity. Large cities can help by reducing pollution and integrating green buildings. Green buildings are buildings that are modified to be eco-friendly through the use of solar panels, censored lights, collect rainwater for reuse, and may even have gardens on the rooftops. 

Climate change will be a problem for a while, but it can be solved through businesses and cities making eco-friendly modifications. Each person in the world can help by becoming aware of the problems and educating themselves and others. It’s important that we are aware of what is happening to Earth, our home, and try to work together to figure out a solution. We only have one Earth.