Minor changes will make a significant difference

Student addresses concerns of climate change

20161121edshe-aBy Alaa Abdullah
Guest Column

So far, 2015 and 2016 were the hottest on record. Will 2017 be even warmer? Saudi Arabia and Africa had record high temperatures this summer. In the last decades, the Earth’s average surface temperature has steadily increased.

An environmental-science student has an obligation to increase people’s awareness of climate change, to inform and educate others about the effects of climate change now and in the future.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – or IPCC – report of 1990 created more awareness within the scientific community about climate change. Since then, the awareness of climate change has increased, but there was no action mirroring the degree of awareness.

Anyone who denies climate change should go to the islands of the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and Arctic to see the impacts of climate change and how those areas have changed.

The first concern

One concern is helping people gain more knowledge about the danger of climate change. Climate change is affecting the U.S. One of the significant ways to appeal to the audience is to demonstrate that the planet is in serious danger.
People need to know that climate change is already occurring, will affect them, and has immense consequences. One way is using a scientific cartoon. While taking climate change seriously, the use of comic characters allows humor to raise awareness about climate change.
Using a scientific cartoon as a magazine cover or full page in a newspaper like polar bear has a tan or stands on a piece of ice at Miami beach, helps people imagine the urgency of the issue.
Artists are taking a stand to highlight the effects of climate change as well as using this as a podium to express their creativity.
Scientists, teachers, artists and many more professionals have a responsibility based on their occupations to help increase awareness.

The second way to educate people on climate change is making information widely available and simple to understand. A well-written article, a decent presentation or video, or even something as simple as a graph are ways to cater to the largest audience possible. For instance, local weather forecasts can effectively communicate about science and climate change communication. That approach could avoid the politicized, motivated beliefs that are common in several climate communication contexts.

The second concern

Another concern is the need to build awareness of undoing the disinformation campaigns that come from groups who deny climate change.

Exxon Mobil is under fire for its aggressive anti-climate change denial even though it was one of the first companies to conduct climate research in the 1970s. Journalists and others are exposing the company’s behavior. At the same time that fossil fuel companies deny its threat, there is evidence that indicates how fast climate change is occurring.

The most important evidence includes very heavy storms that cause floods, hurricanes, increasing sea levels and rising level of greenhouse gases.

These could have important consequences for human health and safety, agriculture, water resources, transportation, energy supplies, and the resilience of ecosystems. Some evidence is rising sea level, but how could climate change affect sea level?

The Earth’s surface has a huge ice-covered area in Arctic and Antarctic. The amount of ice actually moderates the planet’s temperature by its ability to efficiently reflect the sun’s light into space.

As a result, less snow on the ground means more of the sun’s heat that is absorbed into the oceans. The increasing of ocean’s temperature directly affects the ice sheet that raises global sea levels for the next century up to several meters.

A rising sea level could directly threaten the coastal cities and the health of ecosystems in United States.

The third concern

There are some effective ways to reduce climate change as governments and individuals. We need to address how governments and people can help save the planet.

After 20 years of United Nations negotiations about climate change, Paris held the first global agreement on the reduction of climate change within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

There were 195 UNFCCC participating members to set strategies to guide efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The aim is to reduce emissions as part of limiting global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius as soon as possible.

In an individual’s personal life, the one largest contribution he or she can make toward mitigating climate change effects is the consumption of food. Most food is grown on massive farms, also needing power and transportation. People could make positive impact if they changed their diet.

For example, palm oil is in almost everything we buy. It is in cooking oil, processed food, cosmetics, and detergents because it is very cheap vegetable oil and companies make tremendous profits when using it.

Southeast Asia and South America have many palm oil plantations. They burn forests intentionally to create these plantations. This releases massive carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

“Cutting carbon emissions from tropical deforestation could play a critical role in limiting the impacts of climate change.” according to authors of “The Impacts of Oil Palm on Recent Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss.”

Eating less meat in is another effective way to attack the problem. Livestock is a big source of methane in the atmosphere. In comparison to emission from other sources, livestock releases about 10 to 12 percent of the total U.S. emissions according to the Journal Of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics.

Our concerning future

Although the level of awareness has increased over the years, there are not enough effective actions to reduce climate change.

The only thing that people could do is control what they do next, how they will live their lives, and what decisions could be made to make a difference. A massive change in the planet requires everyone’s sense of urgency to have responsibility about climate change.

After years of negative effects of climate change, it is time to declare no more excuses, no more studies, no more evidence, no more greenhouse gases emissions and no more ignoring the problem.

The fact is if people are creating the problem now, they will face it in the future. Thus, people need to solve this issue in their daily life. Minor changes will make a significant difference in a few years.

If everyone in the world takes it upon him/herself to change certain behaviors to reduce climate change, that will be a good reason for hope.

Alaa Abdullah is an environmental science major at WCC.

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