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Climate Change. What Should We Do About It?

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

by Vincent Tran

In the past 19 years, global temperature records have reached new highs. Natural disasters have been worsening, ecosystems are being brought to the brink of destruction, and the quality of the environment is deteriorating. Over the last decade, climate change has risen to be a topic of discussion among political candidates and the general public. It is undeniable the global changes are alarming, but what must be done to combat the inevitable consequences we brought upon ourselves?

The severity of climate change globally must be addressed seriously. Global CO2 emissions continue to rise, despite their known linkage to the increase in the annual global temperature anomaly. Global CO2 emissions in 2019 were 50 percent greater than seen in 2000. The growth of CO2 emissions correlates to the increasing population size and higher standards of living. More development and urbanization requires a greater demand for the use of reliable, easy-to-obtain fuel in the form of fossil fuels. The more society urbanizes, the greater the level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

The vast majority of scientists believe the likelihood of causing financial damage will increase as these habits worsen. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated, “Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.” One piece of evidence includes the dangerously rising sea levels, bound to elevate anywhere between 1 and 8 feet by 2100. Despite not sounding like much of a difference, this puts large portions of places such as New Orleans and Miami at risk of being engulfed by the sea and causing a significant amount of property damage. Billions are spent every year in the United States to recuperate from damages caused by climate disasters, and with problems such as heatwaves continuing to worsen, it will be bound to be more costly in the future. A study made by EPA scientists Jeremy Martinich and Allison Crimmins projects expenses as high as 10 trillion dollars as infrastructure, health, and the availability of jobs are deeply affected.

Now that the severity of the climate change issue has been addressed, the time is ticking to put plans into place to save the future before it is too late. The usage of fossil fuels must slow down and reduce to have any chance of saving the planet. Some politicians have suggested ideas of varying intensity be put into place to reduce these carbon emissions before irreversible damages can occur.

Politicians and nations worldwide have suggested various ways to combat the global crisis. One of many deals, the Paris Agreement, includes almost every country in the world. Despite not being very specific on terms, countries involved aim to reduce their emissions towards a global environmental goal to stay below the +2 degree Fahrenheit line.

As the US plans to formally withdraw from the Paris Agreement on November 4th following their unofficial statement three years prior, politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Joe Biden have suggested their own take of fighting this pressing issue. The Green New Deal, proposed by AOC, is a bill proposal aiming to reduce carbon emissions by overhauling current carbon-emission-heavy practices, such as some means of transportation, with more energy-efficient methods that would require fewer greenhouse gases. It also attempts to redirect affected workers to new jobs during this process. However, being very broad, not much is known about how the process will work, nor its costs. Joe Biden’s climate deal was inspired by the Green New Deal. The process similarly wants to put restrictions on pollution, as well as invest in new green-energy sources to replace and reduce carbon emissions by 2050.

These bills have been widely debated on both sides about the practicality of the changes suggested. However, it is undeniable that the climate issue must be addressed seriously and quickly, or else severe repercussions will be seen shortly. We cannot spend our time coping or ignoring the fact that our environmental world is collapsing at historic rates. Our world is a ticking bomb, and it will continue to edge closer and closer to doomsday unless something changes. However, this doomsday won’t be instant. It will happen over years, continuously wreaking havoc on our societies. And as it gets closer to that point, our hopes of recovery dwindle. Telling future generations that we were too busy to save the world, whether it was because of negligence or being too expensive, would be an embarrassment. Even if our current technology is unable to save the Earth in totality, acting upon it and discovering new practical ways gives a better chance of surviving than doing nothing at all.



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