• Claudia Reines, MHS

Reversing Climate Change

Climate change is currently an urgent problem in the world. It has many devastating effects on humans and the environment, with many animals going extinct or becoming endangered as a result. The melting of ice in cold regions is raising the levels of the sea and causing some animals including polar bears, monarch butterflies, snow leopards, tigers, and koalas to lose their habitats.

Average temperatures are going up. The NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary states that, “The global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880 and over twice that rate (+0.18°C / +0.32°F) since 1981.” The cause of this global warming is the “greenhouse effect.” When heat is released from the sun, it forms infrared radiation. When human created or non-human created gases are released into the atmosphere, the energy from the infrared radiation is re-radiated, reflected, or absorbed by those gases. These gases mainly include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. Although not all of the gases released into the atmosphere are a result of human behavior, many human actions, including burning fossil fuels, release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When these gases get trapped within the atmosphere, there is a warming effect on the whole Earth.

As of late, Americans have seen little change in the actions of large factories and their burning of fossil fuels. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, electricity production was responsible for “26.9 percent of 2018 greenhouse gas emissions… [with] approximately 63 percent of our electricity com[ing] from burning fossil fuels.” The burning of fossil fuels has had a directly immense impact on global warming; however, some politicians believe there are actions that can be taken to lessen climate change and even begin to reverse it.

Limiting the release of greenhouse gases and the burning of fossil fuels can be balanced with social, economic, and political effects. One current proposal is the Green New Deal, a plan in which the federal government would stop the emission of greenhouse gases so much so that by 2050, the amount of carbon released would equal the amount of carbon absorbed. It is a very progressive plan which aims to decrease all of the major causes of climate change.

Many politicians, republican and democrat alike, currently oppose the Green New Deal. A few, like Senator Jim Inhofe of Florida, refuse to acknowledge the existence of climate change, calling it the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” But many more moderate politicians are concerned that the Green New Deal would cost an excessive amount of money, would make the government overly controlling in limiting what citizens can and cannot do, and could negatively affect individuals’ daily lives and businesses. The proposers of the plan have said that though expensive, the plan would slowly get that money back into the economy through economic benefits in the plan. According to the Electric Power Institute's study in 2011, for the United States, it “could cost as much as $476 billion, yet reap $2 trillion in benefits” due mostly to job growth.

Although the actions of major companies and politicians have a huge impact on Global Warming, every citizen can create an impact on the reduction of climate change. Donating to organizations that fight against the increase of oil production, factories, and burning of fossil fuels is a major way to help, since they have a larger influence. Planting trees is also another option to help reduce climate change as trees absorb carbon dioxide. Furthermore, switching to renewable methods of energy such as solar panels can reduce climate change, along with using an electric car instead of one that runs on gasoline. Reducing the consumption of meat can also reduce climate change. Walking and biking more instead of driving alone and even carpooling can reduce a person’s carbon footprint. Additionally, a person can vote for politicians who acknowledge and have a plan to reduce climate change.

Human beings have greatly influenced climate change which will continue to worsen without a concerted effort by individuals and companies to prioritize the Earth on which we live. Climate change is greatly impacting animals and humans and will continue to destroy the planet. Climate change is not going away on its own, and the next generations depend on the actions of today.

Sources:

Can we slow or even reverse global warming?: NOAA Climate.gov. (2020, October 29). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/can-we-slow-or-even-reverse-global-warming#:~:text=Additionally%2C%20technical%20means%20exist%20to,industrial%20levels%20(circa%201750).

The Causes of Climate Change. (2020, December 23). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/

Friedman, L. (2019, February 21). What Is the Green New Deal? A Climate Proposal, Explained. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/climate/green-new-deal-questions-answers.html

Meet the Republicans in Congress who don't believe climate change is real. (2014, November 17). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/17/climate-change-denial-scepticism-republicans-congress

Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. (2020, December 04). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions#:~:text=Coal%20combustion%20is%20more%20carbon,the%20United%20States%20in%202018.

Strickland, J. (2020, June 30). What would it take to reverse global warming? Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/reverse-global-warming.htm

Sanchez-Lugo. (n.d.). Global Climate Report - Annual 2019. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201913

Young, R., & Mitchell, J. (2019, May 13). Humans have 30 years to stave off climate Catastrophe, 'Uninhabitable Earth' author says. Retrieved February 03, 2021, from https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/05/13/climate-change-uninhabitable-earth-david-wallace-wells


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