Education

The Earth is Dying

No, global warming is not a hoax put on by the Chinese. *face palm*

The Earth’s climate has been warming and changing since the beginning of it’s existence. However, the Earth’s climate is changing more quickly now than it ever has before, worrying many scientists. Now more than ever, it’s time to take action if we want to keep living on this planet, because if we don’t, the Earth won’t be able to support us and we’ll die as a species as the Earth dies as a planet.

What is climate change? The definition of climate change that Google gives is:

A change in global or regional climate patterns

Simple enough. The Earth’s climate has been changing since the beginning of time, with periods where the climate was a lot hotter and a lot colder. Climate change is more focused on now because as humans, we rely on the Earth for everything needed for survival, from a source of food and water to the air we breathe.

Why is climate change happening? The answer lies in how we as humans live and operate on the Earth.

The greenhouse effect is the way the Earth’s atmosphere traps the energy from the sun. The sun’s rays hit the Earth; some of these rays go back into space and some of these rays are absorbed and redistributed by greenhouse gases. The absorbed energy allows for the warming of the atmosphere and surface of the Earth, making it so humans can actually survive.

Types of Greenhouse gases include water vapor, methane, and  nitrous oxide, but the most present greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Activities humans do daily, such as burning fossil fuels, agriculture, and land clearing, increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide. The increased greenhouse gases mean that more energy is trapped and the temperature of the Earth increases.

earth is dying
How the Greenhouse Effect works. Via www.alabamawx.com

How is climate change affecting us? Climate change brings several consequences.

More extreme weather, like heat waves, storms, droughts, and floods, come from the increased temperature of the Earth. The changing of the climate means that there is less rainfall in some places, but more in others, leading to potentially catastrophic weather patterns for certain areas around the globe. Rising sea levels also come from the rising temperature. As the glaciers and sea ice melt, more liquid water is found on Earth. Wildlife extinctions are more common, as certain land and oceanic species cannot adapt quickly enough to the changing climate, therefore, they die out. Not only are animals affected, but plants as well, as the changing climate has changed the flowering season for plants.

Who can take action against climate change?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a body within the United Nations that provides the world with an objective and scientific view of climate change, focusing mostly on the political and economic implications. The IPCC releases reports that support the main international treaty on climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The IPCC recently released a report, and the information in it is grave.

The IPCC limits global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius (down from the previous 2 degrees Celsius), which will require an incredible change in how humans interact with the Earth. The IPCC’s full report is: Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.  By setting a new limit, the IPCC hopes to reduce coral reef destruction and sea level rising, and give people and ecosystems time to adapt to changing conditions. You can read the full report here.

earth is dying
Recycle! Via millennialmagazine.com

We as humans can also take action by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by riding bikes, walking, taking public transportation, or driving electric cars. We can change to green alternatives, like energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, and unplug our appliances when we aren’t using them. We can vote for political members who value a green society. We can consume less. It’s not about reversing climate change, but it is about not letting it get worse.

So no, climate change is not a hoax or a myth or a conspiracy theory–it’s real and it’s happening and it’s time to take action so we can continue to live on this beautiful Earth.

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Also published on Medium.

Sierra is a junior studying international business and Spanish at Saint...