What is climate change?

Scientists claim that the earth's surface is heating up but Government officials often deny that this happening. Photo credit: www.frontpagemag.com

Some time has gone by since the outcome of the US presidential election shook America and the rest of the world, or at least half of it, seemingly – and starting to get used to Donald Trump’s new title is something we all have to deal with. The fact that Trump is infamously disregarding climate change as something “the Chinese created in order to make the US manufacturing non-competitive,” on the other hand – is a part of it that is harder to accept.

Although the president-elect might come around sooner or later, this is an issue that has proved to be very urgent. Trump might not live to see the consequences of global warming, and apparently he doesn’t give a hoot about the society and climate his grand children will grow up in, either. That gives the rest of us an even bigger reason to do everything we can to stop our planet from depraving – today.

You might ask yourself: “Is it really that bad?”. The simple answer is yes, it is.  And the slightly longer answer is that 15 out of the 16 years from the year of 2000, have been the hottest in NASA’s 134-year record. This occurrence is caused by carbon dioxide and other air pollutants, created by human activity, that get trapped in the atmosphere and absorb solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface. Normally, this radiation would have disappeared into space but these pollutants are stopping the heat from escaping out. That’s why this phenomenon is called ‘the greenhouse effect’.

The list of consequences in relation to this can be made long, but some of the effects are raising sea levels due to melting ice caps, longer droughts and heat waves, along with more intense hurricanes. It’s not hard to picture the direct implications for human and animal life due to these changes.

The old cliché ‘no one can do everything, but everyone can do something’ might be something you heard from your quirky teacher in middle school when it was time to clean the school yard, but the expression is pretty spot on in this case. Except this time, everyone will have to do something.

“We are the first generation to feel the impact on climate change, and the last generation that can do anything about it,” Obama said in a speech at the Climate Change Conference in Paris 2015. And as he said earlier the same year in an interview with Vice: “the hardest thing in politics is to make sacrifices now, for a long term pay-off”. This is something we can all relate to, whether it’s about putting away money to your savings account, studying in advance for a big exam  or saving our planet by making conscious decisions in our everyday life.

Animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to global warming, being responsible for up to 51  percent of greenhouse gas emissions through, for example, transport and deforestation. Cattle also produces methane which is a gas that is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Producing beef, especially, releases around 4 times more greenhouse gasses than producing pork or chicken. Producing vegetables on the other hand, releases approximately 3-5 times lower emissions than through producing pork or chicken. By cutting down on the production of meat and dairy products, which means restricting your own diet accordingly, a big step would be taken towards reducing the volume of greenhouse gasses.

Another significant move is to educate yourself. Take part in scientific studies and of available information about brands and industries, discuss matters with the people around you and watch documentaries and debates. When it comes down to it, it’s up to each one of us to make the right calls when deciding what companies to support or not to support. The small choices you make everyday can go a long way: take shorter showers, use energy efficient light bulbs, stay on top of recycling and walk or bike whenever possible.

Do you want your grand children, or even your kids, to be able to experience all the baffling wonders of the earth, that we are able to witness today? If we don’t act now, we might not have many of them left in a few years time. The arctic ices are melting, the rain forests are being cut down, the coral reefs are dying, and our fellow companions from the animal kingdom are getting extinguished  species by species. It’s time to realise that this is an issue that cannot get pushed aside for later generations, we all have to take that old cliché seriously and start doing what we can – right now.

Elsa Anderling

Photo credit: www.frontpagemag.com


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