Opinion: A changing world

Renae Lallo, Staff Writer

Climate change. I am sure these two simples words are familiar to you, but do you really know what they mean?

Climate change is the warming of the Earth’s surface temperature due to the emission of fossil fuels. While this does occur naturally, it is primarily done by humans when we burn fossil fuels and release CO2 into the atmosphere. Most people do not realize it, but the warming of the Earth affects all of us.

It is crucial that we make a change in our lives so that we may slow down the destructive course of climate change that we have set ourselves on. We can make these changes by changing our everyday habits such as driving a car or changing their travel habits to avoid using airplanes.

No matter where you live, whether it is in a landlocked area, on the coast, or an island you will see the consequences of climate change. According to an article posted on Apr. 13, 2015 on Scientific America’s website, the Earth’s surface temperature has risen 1.6°F due to climate change.

James Hansen, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, has collaborated with NASA, and studied under a brilliant scientist by the name of James Van Allen. In Hansen’s TED talk, he describes what we can expect as a result of this rise in temperature. He explains that both extremes of the Earth’s water cycle are becoming apparent, on one side there are more droughts and heatwaves and on the other an increase of rainfall and stronger storms, therefore causing an increase of flooding.

In addition to this, climate change has lead to the melting of polar ice caps, causing the sea level to rise. With the rising sea level, small island nations are already beginning to go under. On some islands ,the highest point is a palm tree, so it is important for the people living on these islands that the sea level does not continue to rise.

If we continue on as we have, the Earth will continue to become warmer and we will see more and more of these consequences. Already there has been catastrophic events, such as droughts, stronger storms, heatwaves, and floods, that have killed thousands. On small island nations, people are already beginning to see the effects of sea level rise and the ocean continues to eat away at the coasts of their homes.

This is a growing issue in the world around us, and it is important that we make an effort to change our everyday habits. We need to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 we put into the air or there will be serious consequences. In today’s world, we are already beginning to see these consequences, and if we do not make a change to our destructive ways, we will see even more severe consequences and we may reach the point of no return.

Reaching this point means that “no amount of cutbacks on greenhouse gas emissions will save us from potentially catastrophic global warming” according to the same article posted on Scientific America. If we do not make these changes reaching this point is inevitable and we will destroy our precious Earth, it may never be the same for future generations.

We can all make a difference in our lives and make an effort to reduce our contribution to global warming. Peter Kalmus, a scientist for NASA, wrote about his experience cutting back on his emission of CO2. He explains ways that he cutback such as riding his bicycle and no longer taking planes. As a matter of fact, Kalmus made the shocking discovery that planes contributed to over two thirds of his personal CO2 emissions. So by cutting back on riding planes, he has cut back his personal emissions greatly. In an article for Yes! Magazine, Kalmus writes, “If you take one idea from this article, let it be this: Life without fossil fuels is fun and satisfying, and this is the best reason to change.”

Kalmus could do it, and so can we. He has cut back his carbon emissions to below the 2012 global mean, and if all of us follow his example, we can begin to make a change. There is only one Earth and it is the home of humanity, if we do not take care of it there will be severe consequences. We all need to swim against the current and make a change to our everyday lives so we can reduce our carbon emissions, in order to reverse the effects of climate change. Let’s look forward to a better future rather than one filled with disaster.