Doesn’t it feel extremely hot today? Do you remember those days when the weather used to be not extremely hot or exceptionally cold? My reason for asking you all this is to address the topic of climatic change. Since recent years, the climate has been a very crucial topic affecting each one of us and our planet Earth.
My contention is that climate change already had tremendous effects on the environment as well as our daily lives, and we need to act urgently if we are to avoid an irreversible build-up of greenhouse gases and global warming at a potentially huge cost to the economy and society worldwide.
While the world continues to debate how to handle climate change, the facts and statistics are crystal clear. Climate change is real. In fact 17 of the 18 hottest on record, that’s dating back to 1880 have occurred since 2001. Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the late 19th century. A 2017 report from US government climate science special report states “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” As the Earth warms, one of the major concerns is the melting of the ice sheets. According to NASA from 2002 to 2006 Greenland and Antartica lost as much as 60 and 36 cubic miles of ice respectively. As ice declines and the oceans warm the higher the seas rise, putting costal cities such as Melbourne at risk. Now this doesn’t mean that we’ll experience hotter weathers during winter with climate change, but we will see a warmer shift in the future climate.
This leads to my next point, where change in the climate has various consequences and the most unpleasant one is pollution in air and water, which are the most essential requirements of life. According to the US Global Change Research Program, exposure to extreme weather changes can lead to heat stroke, asthma attacks, dehydration, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as mental health issues. Extreme weather events such as wildfires, which are expected to continue to increase in number and severity as the climate changes, create smoke and other unhealthy air pollutants, and can often be carried very long distances by the wind, affecting people especially young children, pregnant women, elderlies, and people with certain medical conditions who live far from the source of this air pollutant.
Moving on from my previous point, climate change has caused mass extinction of species due to their inability of adapting to a new environment. Scientists of ecology have recently looked at a specific species of butterflies that lives in between Mexico and British Columbia. But recent trends have shown that southern populations of this insect have been dying off at an alarming rate. It has been discovered that these insects depend on one certain plant to develop from a caterpillar to a butterfly, and that plant has been mutated. A clear sign that climate change has been occurring through the environment. On the other hand, some cases of species successfully migrating to a new environment has caused unprecedented consequences to humans. Virus diseases such as Malaria and Ebola which were carried by infected mosquitoes caused mass genocide of people around West Africa, putting all people around the globe at potential risk.
Even though there are libraries of graphs and books about climate change, still – a small percentage of people aren’t convinced that humans are the main cause of global warming. Back in 2012, Donald Trump claimed that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” Since then he has declared his climate change denial on Twitter for around 115 times. On June 2017, vox.com reported that Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement wasn’t about climate change at all, it was rather about the advance of his administration’s tax bill in the US Congress. However, no tax bill has been introduced to the Congress. Even the author of this article expressed quote “this is, to me, the scariest aspect of Trump’s approach to issues like the Paris accords.” Kurt Vonnegut once said “I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it’s a very poor scheme for survival.” Psychologist John Tooby saids “Our modern skulls house a stone age mind.” This means that we’re dealing with the threats of today using tools and our brains from medieval times.
Climate change and its impact on our environment, our economies and our society, is the defining issue of our era. But every day of inaction makes its consequences more irreversible, so we need to act now. The threat of climate change needs to be taken very seriously. It is important that everyone understands what is happening, but it’s crucial that they know why it is happening. Thank you.