Editorial

Have you ever thought about whether turning off your lights to save electricity really helps the earth? Or if disregarding   the meat options actually make an impact? To some, these actions may seem futile compared to the impact that mass industrialization has. Such concerns are understandable. Dishing out tips is simple, but tracking the effects of them is not as straightforward.

By now, many of us have probably seen media coverage on environmental issues and ways to combat them. While awareness is immensely important, what is the point of that if no one takes action?

The alarms have been blaring for quite some time. Everywhere we turn, the signs are glaring. While some may think the sun is the reason for the increase in warm temperature, it is moreso attributed to man-made causes. The Intergovernmental Panel, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from around the world under the United Nations, concluded that there is more than a 95% probability that human activity in just the past 50 years have warmed the planet.

Commonly known as the greenhouse effect, certain trapped gases have created a blanket around our planet. Emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides have interfered with the balance of Earth’s atmosphere and contributed to the mass warming. The majority of these greenhouse gases result from the burning fossil fuel to produce energy, although deforestation and industrial processes have also contributed to this ongoing problem.

We also have to address some misconceptions as well. Generally, the terms weather and climate are used interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference between them. Weather refers to the changes of an area throughout a short time span.  On the other hand, climate change refers to the overarching conditions that characterize a region over a long period of time. Based on this, climate change has a much graver connotation: prolonged changes in an atmospheric region that cannot easily be reversed.

Despite the importance of practicing eco-friendly methods due to the alarming reality, these changes in lifestyle may be temporary. Because the results are not immediate or apparent, people may feel discouraged to continue their efforts in the long run. Not only that, but people may project the responsibility onto someone else. Due to the massive amount in population, the responsibility is not explicitly directed towards anyone. As a result, this dilutes the severity of global warming issues and undermines the importance of collective efforts.

Considering how our lives are directly impacted by the effects of global warming, we must carefully consider the full extent of our actions. Human societies have enjoyed the current climate for years after the end of the last ice age several thousands of years ago, and a warming climate will bring about many changes that can affect our water supply, agriculture, the natural environment, as well as our own healthy and safety.

Although it is hard to tally how much of an effect we make, it is better than doing nothing at all.  The statistics at least provide us with concrete, substantial evidence of the increase in global warming.  Drawing upon facts from NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) climate website, the consequences are severe.

  1. From 1884 to 2016, 9 out of the 10 hottest years occurred since 2000. The exception is in 1998.
  2. Carbon dioxide levels have been the highest in the past 650,000 years.
  3. Global sea levels have risen by 8 inches since 1880, and they are predicted to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100 due to the expansion of seawater from the icecaps.
  4. Glaciers are retreating among several areas in the world, including Alps, Andes, Alaska, Rockies, and Himalaya.
  5. Since the early 1980s, hurricane frequency, duration and intensity have increased.

The magnitude of these effects may not completely register with people.  We may think that because some of these consequences have not personally affected us, then we are safe from the dangers of global warming. The real questions is: can we still stop global warming? In short, no. Humans have already produced too much greenhouse gases emissions, and climate change has already taken place. If we were to completely stop the creation of these gases, it would still take several decades, centuries even, to see a effective change in the planet.

While the harsh truth of reality may be discouraging, there is still a solution. People can prevent the absolute worst of climate change from happening. This involves a two-step approach: mitigation and adaption. Mitigation refers to reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere, and adaptation refers to learning how to live with the changes that have already taken place.

However, noticeable improvement requires a global effort. While it is primarily a massive environmental issue, it also encompasses several other issues. Social, economic, and political aspects of everyday life are intertwined and all contribute to the warming of the earth. To truly make an impact, changes must start at the top and trickle down.

If global warming doesn’t endanger our generation, then it may reach the next.  The luxury of ignoring a critical issue is coming to an end.  The Earth will still be here long into the future, but it may not provide a sustainable environment for us. If we don’t take action now, then when will we?

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