Climate Crisis

Jake Striebeck

According to NASA’s website, the Earth’s climate has varied throughout history. Over the last 650,000 years, our planet has experienced seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the end of the last ice age occurring about 7,000 years ago.

The current trend of rising global temperatures is significant because it is the result of the mid-20th century’s industrial growth and is rising at a rate unlike natural climate changes throughout history.

The largest contributor to climate change is the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases halt the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere, meaning increased greenhouse gases will lead to rising temperatures globally.

Carbon dioxide is released through human activities like deforestation, land development and fossil fuel usage. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by over a third since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Methane, a hydrocarbon gas created by human activities such as the landfill decomposition, agriculture, rice cultivation and manure management of livestock; nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas created by soil cultivation practices and fossil fuel combustion; and chlorofluorocarbons, synthetic compounds created specifically for industrial use, are all major gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Our planet responds to changes of greenhouse gas levels in a variety of ways that can be examined through ice cores, tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs and sedimentary rocks. Evidence provided by these sources includes global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, decreased snow cover, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather events.

To put this another way, many of our industrial and agricultural practices have led to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Due to this increase, our climate is changing drastically.

It’s only going to get worse.

The U.S. will experience heat waves, extreme downpours, droughts, sea-level rise, reduced water supplies, risks to infrastructure, increased ocean acidity, insect outbreaks and increased wildfires.

With all of the evidence supporting the argument that corporate greed has a heavy influence on our climate, there is no excuse to not lessen our impact on the environment and work towards rehabilitation and regrowth.

You would think drastic times call for drastic measures.

Unfortunately, not for Americans.

Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, doesn’t seem to understand the concept of climate change.

To him, it’s fake news. Scientific facts, provided by NASA, aren’t enough to convince Trump that the world is at risk.

This can mean two things: he is either misinformed or he is influenced by oil, gas and agricultural lobbyists.

In 2017, the United States announced the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement which focused on uniting a global response to the danger of climate change.

The Trump administration has also called for the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, an effort made under President Obama’s administration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and regulate carbon dioxide from already-established electricity plants powered by fossil fuels.

President Trump has also promoted drilling on public lands. In 2017, the U.S. government reduced the landmass of Utah national monuments, Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante for drilling use.

We need a revolution.

We need to go vote. Vote in federal elections, state elections and local elections. Vote for candidates that hold strong, progressive stances on combating climate change. Vote for candidates that have a history of environmental activism.

The 2020 presidential election is vital for the future of our planet and for humanity. We can either have another four years of science denial, or we can have four years of progress towards combating drastic climate change.

We can vote with our dollars too. Boycott industries that are major contributors to greenhouse emissions. This means avoiding large-scale and mass-produced agriculture, buying less gas from your neighborhood gas station, preserving electricity and water and supporting local businesses that are invested in reducing their impact on the environment.

Every day that we aren’t taking a step towards progress, we are taking a step further toward the point of no return. Our planet can’t sustain the burden of humanity for much longer — the fate of humanity lies in what we do today.