Combating Climate Change

Evelyn Streit, Columnist

It has been common knowledge in the scientific community for a while now that climate change has been warming up the Earth. This can have many negative effects, and as we look towards the future, is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Climate change by definition is a change in the overall climate of an area, mainly due to increased levels of carbon dioxide. In this case, the change is on a global scale, and is causing the rest of the world to heat up at a dramatic rate. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, agriculture is one of the many things that has been influenced by climate change. Rising temperatures have provoked more severe and constant droughts, which have made it challenging for farmers to grow crops and raise animals. Also, warming waters could cause fish to relocate, which would complicate the process of catching fish.

In addition to agriculture, world health is another topic that requires attention. For example, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, global warming will cause a surge in heat related deaths, like heat stroke and dehydration. Next, warmer temperatures tend to damage air quality which may lead to more respiratory and cardiovascular issues.

Finally, one of the most prominent concerns: the melting and breaking of arctic ice sheets. According to WWF Global, the rate that Antarctica is warming at is almost double the global average. This takes a lot of habitat land away from many of the species living there, like the emperor penguin and various types of bears and seals, but it also influences life outside of Antarctica. According to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, if the whole Antarctic ice sheet were to melt, it would raise the world-wide sea level by over 60 meters. Again, while much of climate change would impact humans, it also impacts other plants and animals around us too.

Many of these effects are caused by people and their production of greenhouse gases. Luckily, just as we were the ones to cause the problem, there are also some easy ways that we can work towards reversing the damage. First off, being energy efficient is always a good idea. Yes, switching off the lights when you’re not using is one way, but you can go even further and change the actual light bulb to compact fluorescents or LEDs. Following this, according to NRDC, in some places, renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil fuel-fired or nuclear power plants. So, especially in places like Arizona, installing things like solar panels that work to provide energy without polluting the planet can make a huge difference. Next, try to limit the amount of waste in the landfill by recycling, using reusable containers, and maybe even starting a compost bin. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, trimming your waste is important, because the garbage put into landfills creates methane which further contaminates the atmosphere. Another simple way to help the Earth is to use more efficient transportation. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, nearly 25 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are created by transportation. Therefore, if given the chance choose a healthier method like walking or riding your bike, take it. If that isn’t possible, consider carpooling or just using a car with greater fuel efficiency, such as a Prius.

So what have scientists been doing to fight climate change? As it turns out, they have been busy coming up with solutions, and some of them are very unusual. To start, according to The New York Times, there is a huge amount of space in Oman that is filled with beautiful, veined rock formations. These rocks form by taking carbon dioxide out of the air and changing it into stone. So, researchers have been brainstorming ways to utilize this natural process on a faster and larger scale because it could help to remove the growing amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide found in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to The Los Angeles Times, another way that science might be able to fix the current amount of carbon dioxide in the air is a process called “Harnessing Plants.” Basically, this is where scientists breed plants so that they produce more suberin (a waxy substance that protects plants’ roots). Suberin is significant because it is a difficult substance for bacteria to break down and is one of the most stable forms of carbon in the soil, meaning that after carbon from the air falls back to the ground in the form of suberin, it will stay there. As stated in The Los Angeles Times, scientists think that if this idea is successful, and created on a scale that is large enough, it could help plants to create 20 times the oxygen that they create right now.

Climate change is a big issue, and if not addressed now, could have overwhelming and irreversible impacts on the environment. It may feel like one person couldn’t possibly do enough to make a difference, but if everyone thought like that, then change wouldn’t happen. Scientists as well as normal everyday people can change the world and work to create a cooler future, literally.