Set your watches everyone. Seven years is all the time you have left before climate change becomes irreversible. Seven years before famine, drought, floods and suffering. Climate change has remained a pressing issue for years, yet our response to its rapid developments have continued to remain sluggish. We have already seen the effects of climate change in states like California, Florida and Louisiana, where wildfires and hurricanes continue to ravage these states at unprecedented levels.
And that’s in the United States alone. If we look at climate change on a global level, we welcome a whole new set of challenges. However, despite the numerous lives that are being lost as a result of extreme weather events, local and national authorities have failed to act sufficiently. Climate change isn’t getting any better, and neither is our response.
Climate change in the United States has been a leading topic of discussion in recent times, and it is even becoming a platform issue for the parties to run on. With the recent increase in severe wildfires in California and the back to back hurricanes along the Southeast coast, the United States seems to finally have felt the shock of climate change. It’s a shock that has led to the rise of new climate activists in the government, such as Governor Gavin Newsom of California.
Newsom, a strong fighter for climate change reforms, has been working hard in setting new state legislation to decrease the rate of climate change. On Sept. 23, he announced that sales of all new passenger vehicles in the state of California must be zero-emission by 2035. “This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom when announcing his Sept. 23 executive order. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut has also been advocating heavily for climate change reform. He passed the Super Pollutants Act, a bill that regulates the federal government’s emissions of certain pollutants.
However, despite these efforts, many climate activists suggest that such solutions are too few in number. They have pointed out that climate change is a global issue, and while state legislation to help reform climate change is highly appreciated, the United States must also be focusing on solving the issue on an international scale.
Since President Trump dropped out of the Paris Climate Agreement and is not focusing on climate change as a major issue, activists worry about the future direction that the United States will take in regards to protecting the planet. Most recently, neither presidential candidate has agreed to adopt the Green New Deal, a plan designed to help stop the effects of climate change. The United States continues to remain ineffective in dealing with climate change.
Simply put, it isn’t getting better, and things are on track to get worse. NASA, a federal agency that has been gathering information on climate change over the past decade, recently updated their findings, which are shocking. It turns out that carbon dioxide emissions are increasing by 414 parts per million, the highest ever recorded, and sea levels continue to increase at a rate of 3.3 milliliters per year.
Connecting that back to the climate attacks taking place in the U.S., NASA’s statistics prove a direct correlation between climate change and the California wildfires. With more CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere, California’s climate has gotten hotter with each passing year, reducing the amount of moisture present for vegetation. This makes it easier for parched vegetation to ignite and start wildfires.
The same can be applied to the recent waves of hurricanes plaguing Florida and Louisiana. With an increased number of trapped carbon emissions in the earth’s atmosphere, ocean waters are absorbing more heat, increasing the rate at which hurricanes form. Hurricanes also draw their energy from warm ocean waters, so they are becoming more powerful as storm winds are increasing in magnitude. With water levels continuing to rise, the risk of surge flooding continues to worsen as well.
The scariest part, however, is that NASA’s statistical trends for CO2 emissions and ocean water, rising since 2005, have continued to increase. Over the last 15 years, there hasn’t been a significant drop in either trend, which implies a continued trajectory in the years to come. This only means that we should expect to see more severe wildfires and hurricanes in upcoming years.
So what does this mean for us? Well, in ways now more than ever, humanity is at the brink of extinction. Between nuclear warfare and climate change, we as a civilization are dealing with an increasing number of threats. The Doomsday Clock, which is a clock that counts down to the end of the world, was shifted to 11:58 pm (12:00 am marks the end of the world) earlier in 2018 as a result of these accumulating threats.
Scientists now argue that as climate change continues to remain an uncontrollable problem, that the minute hand on the doomsday clock will continue to inch towards 12. We have seven years before climate change becomes irreversible. Seven years before the clock strikes 12…. But it’s not too late.
Now, more than ever, we as a national and global community need to put our differences aside and come together to solve this pressing issue. We need to work towards reducing our carbon emissions and moving towards renewable energy. Corporations and factories need to immediately shift to renewable energy and abandon fossil fuels, and even as individuals, we need to try and reduce our carbon footprint to whatever extent we can.
Climate change is a problem that is at our doorstep as of this minute, and we need to decide immediately on how to deal with it. There is still time for change, and we need to stop wasting the precious seconds that are going by; It’s not too late to act, but we have to start now.