Climate Change: The Issue That’s Heating Up

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Climate Change: The Issue That’s Heating Up

Graphic by Ashley Montiel

Graphic by Ashley Montiel

Graphic by Ashley Montiel

Luca Rivera, Senior, Graphic Design Editor

For more than a decade people have been debating the reality of climate change and global warming. On November 24, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was released, and the news was not good. The report, mandated by The Global Change Research Act of 1990, compels the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) to deliver a report to Congress every four years. According to Time magazine, the report confirms that “climate change is a menace that threatens the well-being of the United States.” Due to some of the dire projections in the report, some are beginning to wonder if it is even possible to reverse or stop its effects. Will the familiar  green triangle of “reduce, reuse, recycle” be replaced by the black triangle of “resign, regret and remorse”? Is it too late to make a difference?

Global warming is mostly measured in the amount of CO2 present in the atmosphere, which is measured in parts per million (ppm). The level of CO2 in the Earth is calculated daily, in real time, by NASA and can be seen at climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/. According to an article published by Scientific American, prior to humans pumping pollution into the atmosphere, CO2 levels of the earth were around 275 ppm. Scientist believe it’s impossible to reduce the CO2 to original levels, but they say reducing the current 390 ppm to 350 ppm would be a “tolerable upper limit.” There is a movement to help reduce the CO2 levels to 350 ppm on 350.org, but the capitalist nature of today’s society must be changed if we wish to save Planet Earth.  Is humankind willing to make such a change? Even if it people were willing, would they be able?

The world would need to halt the burning of fossil fuels. The automotive industry has made strides with electric and hybrid vehicles, but the airline industry would be completely obliterated unless an alternative way were developed to stop the airplane emissions. There are scientists and innovators who make breakthroughs every day, but until and unless everyone recognizes that the problem of climate change is legitimate and that change is needed, there would be little incentive to seek out such breakthroughs.

There aren’t enough people with the power to greatly reduce fossil fuel use. In order to save the planet citizens must vote for climate conscious candidates. If the United States, one of the leading users of fossil fuels and oil producer, were to change its stance to a more climate conscious way-of-life the carbon levels would decrease. An easy way to help save our planet is to use reusable bags when grocery shopping or investing in reusable utensils. The World Economic Forum believes it is possible to live in a carbon-neutral world by the year 2050, but clear goals must be set by countries and companies and actions must be taken now to help the planet. To save the Earth, a major change in the way people have learned to live must be made.

If you wish to find out your impact on the planet through your carbon footprint visit footprint.wwf.org.uk/carbon/footprint. And if you wish to make sure our leaders treat this global crisis as the crisis that it is, speak up, and let your voice be heard.