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The cold shoulder on climate change

MELISSA PREGASEN, STAFF WRITER

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  It’s discussed. It’s disregarded. It’s disputed.

  Climate change is the most important global problem the Earth is facing. We have all heard about it, but what really is it and why is it important?

  From the mid to late 20th century and forwards, increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuels has led to change in global and regional climate patterns. As a result, Earth’s average temperature has increased—global warming.

  Let’s break this down. Fossil fuels are formed by natural processes. They are coal, oil, or gases that when burned release carbon dioxide (CO2). There are many heat-trapping gases, but carbon dioxide is the one that is the most talked about because by burning fossil fuels or burning forests an overload of carbon is released.

  The average temperature of Earth’s surface has grown by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 100 years. While this may sound almost infinitesimal, over the entire surface of the planet it is very high. Further if emissions remain releasing carbon dioxides into the atmosphere, global warming would exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit. And, this could make the Earth’s ability to support its ever increasing population weaken.

  The reason people seem to disregard the issue, is because the affects have more impact in the long run rather than the coming 10 to 20 years. However, if we progress as we have the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals will be caused by increase carbon emissions solely created by humans. We need to look to the future. We may not recognize its magnitude in person today or tomorrow, but the future generations will definitely experience drastic changes.

  Climate change has already had significant impacts on our environment. According to NASA, more droughts and heatwaves are expected to become increasingly intense. This in turn would directly hurt agriculture making the prominent food source of humans relinquish.

  Further, climate change increases the stress between nations. A Pentagon report released in 2014 discussed the increased competition that climate change causes. This in turn increases the probability of war between nations as the economies, societies, and governments are tasked with dealing with global warming as it affects land and agriculture.

  But, can humans do anything to make the issue better?

  “It’s important for people to understand what is happening to the excess CO2 that is being released,” science teacher Emily Massey-Burmeister said. “The carbon that is released has been out of Earth’s circulation for thousands of years. We must think about where the carbon is going to go.”

  On the political side, national advances towards replacing old technologies with greener options and minimizing fossil fuel use around the world is necessary. Legislation must be pushed for carbon dioxide, black carbon, and methane— the three most impactful greenhouse gases for our global temperature.

  However, regular people should help too. Small changes like installing smart thermostats, switching to efficient light bulbs, or plugging leaks in house insulation to save power really do make a difference. Further, experts believe that national policy cannot act alone. Politicians only play a part in helping the environment. We need the public to help in every way possible, no matter the size, to really offset the movement.

  “If we continue at the pace we are going, the end is coming.” senior Leah Hardgrove said.

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The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School
The cold shoulder on climate change