Saturday, November 16, 2013
Will my grandchildren ever have the opportunity to see a glacier up close? I can’t confidently say that they will.
Ninety-seven percent of scientists now agree that global climate change is happening due to human negligence. The trend seems to be that the more we investigate and learn about this topic, the more relevant and severe the predictions become.
Consider the recent news. Fires, droughts, floods and catastrophic tropical storms are becoming more common and more severe. Wildfires in Australia are raging.
According to Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the intensity of these fires is driven by climate change.
Positive feedback loops increase the severity of the problems we face. These self-amplifying relationships explain why climate change is getting worse, and why it isn’t just going to go away.
Consider the methane gas trapped in permafrost. As arctic regions warm up, the permafrost melts and releases methane, which is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases. This further warms the climate and melts more permafrost.
Worsening fires caused by drought release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, which contributes to an increase in drought severity. Melting sea ice becomes water, which absorbs more heat due to decreased albedo (reflecting power), and the planet gets warmer.
Standing idly by while these problems are getting worse is to condemn our posterity to the hardship of dealing with the long-term consequences of recent generations’ nearsightedness.
But these issues are easier to solve now than they will be anytime in the future. Buying compact fluorescent light bulbs and recycling your aluminum cans isn’t and will never be enough. Our current way of life is unsustainable, but many who hold positions of power are either unwilling or uninterested in making the necessary reformations.
I challenge you to be informed, and to take action whenever and wherever you can. There is so much you can do as an individual, and so much more we can do if we all work together. Climate change is the most severe problem of our time. Be a part of the solution, for our future as humans depends on the planet we call home.