Dating back to the Ancient Greeks, many proposed that humans had the potential to alter the earth’s temperature and exhibit a degree of control over its precipitation…
A recent surge in youth activism has shed a light upon a ubiquitous issue that not just America faces, but the world: the warming of the climate. At first, I saw this activism as a beneficial opportunity to educate people about the danger and the limited time that our country faces in regards to mending the natural environment that human activity has brutally wounded. However, I recently saw the consequences of placing climate change under activist connection. By definition, activism is the policy or action using extensive types of campaigning to bring about social and political change. Riddle me this, how did climate change end up under a political column?
Climate Change’s definition is purely under categories of scientific fields, including but not limited to chemistry, biology, ecology, and oceanography. I could comprehend the idea of government and public policy sticking their noses up global warming, but politics? Have we really sunk to this new low? This type of phenomenon is analogous to such “opinions” that the earth is flat. Denying scientific evidence is not a political strategy and will not invoke any type of “hope” that is considered imaginary in regards to the climate.
In order to further my reasoning, I’d like to utilize a different course of study: history. The climate has been warming for some time now and it’s important to know the foundations to which it has been growing on for centuries. I’ve additionally included possibly unfamiliar visuals to observe a distinct perspective rather than using our every-day perception to view climate change through another lens.
(Note: these pictures are not meant to necessarily help understand or correlate to the text, but provide a different perspective as to how we see view our surroundings today).
The Neolithic Revolution marked the beginning of humanity’s inescapable fall toward an uninhabitable near future. Newly introduced agricultural practices such as grazing and and deforestation removed natural practices of photosynthesis and necessary plant life that contributed to the stability of gases. These practices resulted in intensified erosion of the surface and increased sedimentation, a new study by professors at Tel Aviv University in Israel find. Erosion and sedimentation can result in a loss of biodiversity in some areas, limiting such sources and species necessary in food chains and ecosystems.
Indeed, the Neolithic Revolution wasn’t a detrimental period to the environment itself, but rather a starting line to a race toward humanity’s most arrogant decisions.
Fast forward hundreds of years later and the greenhouse effect is born. French mathematician and physicist Joseph Fourier proposed that energy reaching the planet as sunlight must be balanced by energy returning to space since heated surfaces emit radiation. Some of that energy, however, must be held within the atmosphere and not return to space, keeping Earth warm. He deemed that this motion was “like a greenhouse…”
By the 1930’s, at least one scientist would start to claim that carbon emissions might already be having a warming effect. British engineer Guy Stewart Callendar noted that the United States and North Atlantic region had warmed up incredulous amounts as a result of the Industrial Revolution. This was the AHA moment… for scientists, at least. Callendar’d ideas were based on the growth of the greenhouse effect due to the new advancements brought upon by factories and emissions from non-environmental friendly practices. His theories were met largely with skepticism and wouldn’t be truly recognized until the dust bowl of 1930, a devastating natural occurrence that brought panic amongst the newly recognized theory of climate change.
The Dust Bowl was caused by severe drought brought upon by farmers suffering from a shortage of farming supplies due to an economic depression. The most prominent cause in its association with the climate is that temperatures were unusually high during those years. The theories dating back to thousands of years ago were true: humanity has the potential to alter the time we spend on this planet.
The good news was that scientists were finally starting to take alterations of the climate a bit more seriously, the bad news was that this created leeway for ubiquitous panic, which often leads to messy politics.
For the next ninety years, scientific job numbers would reach new heights as new panics over previously accepted jobs including fracking and pesticide usage surged across the globe. Such jobs decrease biodiversity and increase pollution. Among these consequences is the effect of erosion.
Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last fifty years. Losing rich those nutrients and richness earth bestows upon us not only limits biodiversity that benefits the environment, but decreases the potential agriculture that absorbs carbon emissions. However, this goes beyond the loss of environmental friendly land, erosion causes sediment runoff in lakes and rivers which disturbs aquatic ecology necessary for the absorption of carbon.
Keeping the world green and rich with species is not a matter of saving the incomes of farmers, it’s a matter of preserving the biodiversity on both land and water that creates an eco-friendly community that so righteously evolved since the Big Bang.
So let’s talk about how humanity has fulfilled its urge to play God throughout the fraction of the time its existed.
Overpopulation, urbanization, burning fossil fuels, deforestation, fracking, national factories. Would it surprise you if I said that this was the tip of the iceberg? Failure to address exceedingly high carbon emissions, failure to implement national eco-friendly policy, failure to collaborate internationally.
Ever since the first global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, the Kyoto Protocol, was adopted in 1997, there has been unnecessary, unfulfilling, pointless and dangerous debate as to whether policy regarding the environment should be nationally enforced. In fact, George Bush backed out of this protocol, claiming it was nothing but a so-called economic setback.
In recent years, America’s leaders have made the dreadful decision to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a collaborative effort by the United Nations to reduce the global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees celsius. This agreement is a way for developed countries to work together and aid developing countries in assimilating globally practiced efforts to reduce humanity’s impact on the environment in the most agreeable way possible.
Or, was a way.
Now that the United States has removed itself from this turning point in global climate action, America’s outlier emissions will exacerbate other countries’ efforts to create effective change. In a way, America is that one kid in English Class, running his mouth and eventually giving the whole class detention due to his incompetence and selfishness.
All in all, we have failed to address something that may very well reflect our children’s future.
Speaking of the future, let’s discuss what is has in store.
NASA predicts that climate change will act as a constant from this year and beyond. In other words, it will continue from this century onto the next, but its magnitude and the effect on which it has on future generations can’t be wholeheartedly predicted. Meaning, what we do now and how we act matters. Moreover, as heat emissions rise, so does drought and heat waves. NASA predicts that summer temperatures will continue to rise, lessening soil moisture and “exacerbating heat waves.” Additionally, if soil moisture is weakened, what happens to the plant life? The amount of green on earth will decrease, causing a possible shortage of habitat life needed in an ecosystem and necessary for certain human practices.
NASA has continuously mentioned that hurricanes will grow stronger and faster along with the Arctic become completely ice-free. Interesting then, how it looks like the quantity of hurricanes and storms have been dramatically increasing every decade. Sure enough, the United States hit a record breaking number of hurricanes in 2020 alone.
I don’t want to grow up in a society where science is rejected and urgent matters are ignored. I don’t want to convince my friends, colleagues, or family that there is an existential crisis that has exhibited the data and the evidence of its potential demise to humanity’s way of life itself.
Most of all, I don’t want to have to explain to my future children that when we had the power to take action, we missed our chance. I don’t want to explain to them why we couldn’t use our democratic power to present a certain level of control over our country’s public policy.
Science is not and will never amount to a political problem. It is a matter of science, policy and international collaboration that requires a most profound manner of attention. Maybe not our lives, nor our children’s lives may depend on it, but the fate of our species does.
The Effects of Climate Change. 21 Aug. 2020, climate.nasa.gov/effects/.
History.com Editors. Climate Change History. 6 Oct. 2017, http://www.history.com/topics/natural-disasters-and-environment/history-of-climate-change.
Thing. Earliest Human Impact on Environment Discovered. 6 June 2017, economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/science/earliest-human-impact-on-environment-discovered/articleshow/59019920.cms.
Soil Erosion and Degradation. http://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/soil-erosion-and-degradation.