Everyone loves a snow day. Waking up late, seeing the beauty of the pure white snow masking the imperfections of the world. Although snow does not occur everywhere, it is concerning to notice how less abundant it has become in current winters. This is due to Earth’s rising temperatures, or climate change, which is the result of humans damaging attitude towards the environment. If the temperature is too high, above 32 degrees fahrenheit, then it is impossible for snow to occur. The overall global temperature has risen, the carbon dioxide in the air is at an all time high, the arctic ice is rapidly melting, and our sea levels are constantly rising. If this keeps occurring, humanity and our Earth could experience complete devastation.
Devastation could include the loss of a large portion of one of our major food sources: fish. This could happen in the near future, “As seawater reaches farther inland, it can cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination, and lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants” (“Sea Level Rise”). In addition to marine life, human life would also be greatly impacted as some areas would become more vulnerable to flooding, while other areas may actually become completely emerged in the sea, causing a need for many people to relocate and abandon their homes. If large amounts of people came flooding inland, the overcrowding of cities and towns could become a serious issue, as well as homelessness.
In addition to the water levels rising, our air is becoming increasingly contaminated. As we pollute the air by burning fossil fuels everyday, for example gasoline in cars, we contribute to the already existing problem of climate change. And as temperatures rise, air pollution levels increase. John Walke, director of the Clean Air Project at NRDC says, “Another type of air pollution is then worsened by that increased heat: Smog forms when the weather is warmer and there’s more ultraviolet radiation.” If we keep polluting the air at this rate, which is 405.92 parts per million of CO2 dumped into our atmosphere per year (NASA), we may begin to experience serious health consequences. Some of these include an increased risk of heart and lung disease, and:
Benzene, classified as a carcinogen by the EPA, can cause eye, skin, and lung irritation in the short term and blood disorders in the long term. Dioxins, more typically found in food but also present in small amounts in the air, can affect the liver in the short term and harm the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, as well as reproductive functions. Lead in large amounts can damage children’s brains and kidneys, and even in small amounts it can affect children’s IQ and ability to learn. Mercury affects the central nervous system (Mackenzie)
We can reduce the amount of air pollution easily, by burning less fossil fuels and by finding cleaner, environmentally friendly alternatives to the fossil fuels such as gasoline, oil, and coal that we consume so much of.
The increase of our global temperature is causing problems too. This February of 2017 was the second hottest on record in 137 years, the hottest having occurred a year earlier in 2016 (Cabbage). It is very evident that global warming is a reality. Along with the increase in temperatures, an organization called “Climate Communication” stated that, “Global warming is increasing the frequency and intensity of some types of extreme weather.” The warmer temperatures are causing heavier rainfall in wet areas as water is evaporating faster, and there are also longer dry periods in dry places due to the increased evaporation rate. The increased rainfall and length of dry periods was correlated by Climate Communication, explaining that “This [the increase in rainfall], coupled with more evaporation due to higher temperatures, intensifies drought. Wet places have generally become wetter, while dry places have become drier. Heat waves have become more frequent and intense, while very cold days have decreased.” So as temperatures increase, the occurrence of extreme weather also increases.
With all the statistics proving the problems of climate change, it is incredible that there is still doubt about it. For instance, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, plans to “shut down and silence the national organisations that track the effects of climate change and global warming” (Griffin), due to Trump calling climate change “a Chinese hoax before the US election and since then has appointed a string of people with links to the fossil fuel industry and a track record of global warming scepticism to senior positions in his administration” (Johnston). Though Trump and his administration are trying to denounce climate change and pass it off as a “hoax,” it is indisputable that climate change is a real and serious problem.
All hope is not lost, however. There is still time for us to change our ways in which we power our everyday tasks. If we can cut back or completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels by finding an environmentally friendly solution, we can stop the change of our climate before it becomes unfixable. It is imperative that we make these changes quickly, or as Andrew Tarantola of Gizmodo says, “We just need to stop arguing and start taking action, before it's too late.” If action is not taken, or not taken fast enough, the effects of climate change could be irreversible by then.