Just last week, I received the most alarming notification on my phone from the Washington Post declaring that the world has less than 10 years to get climate change under control, predicted by United Nation scientists.
The first thing on my mind was how, all our lives, we have been told the importance of the three R’s, reduce, reuse and recycle and to follow the infamous do not litter rule in order to keep our planet clean. We learned about our precious planet, oceans and the living organisms who inhabit biology classrooms. So, what happened? Carbon dioxide.
Even though it seems to be a popular conversation in recent news, it is not a new one. Scientists have been detecting global warming since the 1800s. According to the American Institute of Physics, between 1800 and 1870, the level of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) in the atmosphere measured in ancient ice was about 290 parts per million. The average global temperature during this time was roughly 13.7 degress celsius, equating to 56.6 degrees fahrenheit.
“First, Industrial Revolution. Coal, railroads and land clearing [sped] up greenhouse gas emission, while better agriculture and sanitation [sped] up population growth,” stated the American Institute of Physics.
In 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, The Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty which committed state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, was created. The treaty went into effect in February of 2005, and was signed by all major industrial nations except the United States. Work to slow down emissions accelerated in Japan, Western Europe and U.S. regional governments and corporations. Then, Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005 with little to no preparation and relief effort.
Hurricane Katrina is considered one of the largest U.S. upsets. Hurricane Katrina and other major tropical storms spur debate over the impact of global warming on storm intensity.
In 2006, China passed the U.S. as the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. According to the American Institute of Physics, as of 2015, researchers found the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet irreversible, bringing meters of sea-level rise over future centuries.
“Average global temperature [in 2015] is 14.8 degress celsius [58.6 degrees fahrenheit,] the warmest in thousands of years. Level of CO2 in the atmosphere goes above 400 ppm, the highest in millions of years,” according to the American Institute of Physics.
Climate change has become politicized and politically divisive in recent years within the U.S. Other countries around the world seem to acknowledge the catastrophic consequences that can result in lack of action from society. The topic gained a lot of attention during former President Obama’s last term when he stated, “99.5 percent of scientists and experts [and] 99 percent of world leaders agree human-caused climate change needs to be reckoned with.”
Some Republicans called it a “hoax.”
“While the world is in turmoil and falling apart in so many different ways, especially with ISIS, our President is worried [about]global warming — what a ridiculous situation,” GOP frontrunner Donald Trump said in a video post on Instagram in 2015.
Another alarming piece of information I came across is the fact that just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions, according to The Guardian. A small number of fossil fuel producers and investors can be the solution for seizing climate change.
Rider Sustainability Manager Melissa Greenberg said, “While it is very easy to feel hopeless and overwhelmed by the recent report released by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it’s also easy to see the silver lining. Today’s college students have been hearing about climate change for most of their lives. They have seen firsthand what’s happening with extreme weather events, a rise in illnesses, species decline and water pollution and, in some cases, have been affected in very personal ways. This group of young people are becoming unavoidably aware of their own impact on the world around them.It’s an exciting time to get in the game and be a part of a generation that could actually reverse the effects of decades of pollution.”
Greenberg continued, “Where young people may have ‘sat out’ the vote in the past, there is a ground swell that’s sending more of them to the polls in an effort to fix what’s broken.”
Senior graphic design major Nutsa Kapanadze said, “It is necessary to start this conversation of climate change if we want the future generation to experience the life we get to experience, we have to approach this global issue with huge solutions.”
Our generation has the ability and the knowledge to make a difference on our planet that is currently dying. We are witnessing first hand the abnormal intensity and frequency of these natural disasters taking place internationally. Now that we are of the age to vote, we can emphasize this crisis and take it into our own hands.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the opinion editor, Qur’an Hansford