Climate change: where we are and where we can go

Recently, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report warning that the warming of the earth is increasing at faster rates than previously predicted.

The average global temperature has increased about 1 degree Celsius in the past century. This report shows the consequences ahead of us if the average global temperature increases past 1.5 degrees. While some hope of salvaging our world is offered by the report, the rapid union and mobilization of nations towards lowering CO2 emissions and investing in clean energy are necessary.

Many nations have accepted this report and are planning to take action, but it is unclear what the United States will do.

President Trump himself has been quoted saying that climate change is not real and that recent environmental changes are not caused by humans.

However, science has undoubtedly shown us that climate change is a reality that must be dealt with. We are already experiencing the effects of climate change: record-breaking heat, hazardous weather, the extinction of species and the rise of sea levels. In the past 2 years alone, the US, including South Florida, has been struck by a series of super-storms including Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, and now most recently, Hurricane Michael. It is clear that our world is gradually dismantling.

Amidst these clear and obvious signs of environmental catastrophe and countless scientific reports like this one, President Trump and his administration are putting forward policies that will increase our CO2 emissions. Climate change has huge implications for the future, not just for America, but for humanity. It is an issue far more urgent than building a wall, removing NAFTA, cutting taxes or any of the other ventures and campaign promises Trump has chosen to prioritize. President Trump seems to have been very good at getting things done. But is he getting the right things done?

Since World War II, America has been regarded as the leader of the world. Nations around the world have looked up to us and admired us for our democracy, human rights, innovation, and economy. We have paved the way for other nations and led by example. Trump’s “America First” mantra has started a new era in which policy and attitude have shifted towards placing American needs ahead of the world’s. However, if we apply this same mentality when it comes to climate change, we will be last, not first.

As the second largest emitter of CO2 in the world, it is crucial that the United States works towards becoming greener, not only for the sake of Americans but to protect the future of other nations as well.

Often as students, it can feel like we cannot make an impact. But we do have our voices, and as we have seen with the students of Parkland, Florida, we can be heard.

If you care about this issue, if you want to see something done about it, learn. Knowledge and reason are the most powerful tools we have. You cannot really support something that you don’t know much about. Once you have learned, get out and speak to others. This could be just in your family or on a bigger scale, like writing to politicians and getting involved in organizations.

One of the most powerful ways in which we can use our voices is through our votes. With the midterm elections next month, it is extremely important that we make them count.

Anna Timmons is a freshman majoring in biochemistry.