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A Cry for Help Before It Is Too Late

in Climate Change by

I howled for your attention as I billowed and rumbled across Louisiana in 2005. I was reaching out trying to express the pain you were causing me, but you only saw me as “Hurricane Katrina.” In 2010, I roared for help again when I ripped apart the earth in Haiti. I was trying to release the pain I was feeling inside. You still didn’t see me, and only referred to me as “the Haiti earthquake.” I cried again in November 2020, sobbing out of control. The anguish from my tears created a “supertyphoon” that entrenched the shores of the Philippines. And currently, parts of me have been erupting in flames on the west coast for months. Yet, you still don’t see me. You only refer to the “wildfires” burning in California. Now, I am begging and pleading for each one of you to help me! My desire is for you to realize the pain you are causing me. I am the Earth, and I am dying! This is my cry for help before it is too late!

Climate change is a topic that is prevalent around the world. In 2019, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg delivered a speech to world leaders calling for them to take action on climate change, generating support for reform around the world. Facing climate change is a topic that feels like a herculean task whether you believe in it or not. However, there is scientific evidence that highlights the Earth’s drastic changes through historical data. 

Sooner rather than later, all of us will feel the effects of climate change. Your favorite vacation destinations will lose what could be called the eighth wonder of the world: snow. Some of the world’s most famous places for a nice, relaxing day on the beach, will either be underwater, or too warm to be habitable. 

Global warming affects our lands, oceans, and air we breathe. According to NASA, Earth’s average temperature has increased about 2.05 degrees since the 19th century. NASA pinpoints this change to increased carbon and man-made emissions in the atmosphere. Since 1969, the oceans have warmed more than 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit. There is more ocean acidification than ever before, a decrease in snow cover, glaciers retreating, and increasing sea levels. Many islands in the world are slowly sinking due to rising sea levels. The Bahamas was 60 percent underwater when Hurricane Dorian hit in 2019. Fiji, the Maldives, and Seychelles are all vulnerable to going underwater if sea levels continue to rise. Ice sheets have decreased in mass between the years 1993 to 2019. Antarctica has lost about 148 billion tons of ice per year, while Greenland lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice per year. If this constant cycle persists, then Greenland will really be green instead of covered in ice.

Reading this scientific evidence should give you a sense of urgency. Even if you don’t live in places that are being affected by the evidence previously mentioned, you should know that climate change also causes extreme weather. NASA reports that since 1950, the number of record high temperatures in the United States have been increasing, while the number of record low temperatures have been decreasing. In addition, NASA states that the U.S. has also seen an increase in the number of intense rainfall events. Earlier this year, Death Valley, California, recorded the hottest air temperature measured since 1913. At 134 degrees Fahrenheit, this temperature literally broke thermometers! If Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit didn’t plan for his scale to reach that high of a temperature when he invented it, what does that say about the direction that Earth is headed? 

There are people that don’t believe climate change is real. They feel that the change in climate is attributed to the Earth’s natural behavior or cycle. They point to evidence that the Earth has fluctuated in temperature throughout history. And, humans have been able to adapt to those changes. For example, in 1789, a volcano in Iceland caused a massive eruption that wiped out livestock by the masses. Known as the Laki eruption, the volcano’s explosion caused global temperature cooling for the next few years. While this is a specific occurrence in history where the temperature shifted, the evidence that climate change existed is overwhelming. Currently, greenhouse gases are releasing carbon dioxide at higher rates than ever before in history. There has been a constant rate of increase in global temperature in the air and oceans. The increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has led to drastic effects on the environment, including endangering animal species and marine life across the planet. 

If learning about the factors that are fueling climate change concern you, do not feel distressed! You still have the ability to wipe away my tears. There are many quick and efficient solutions that you can do in the comfort of your home. For example, plant a garden or help clean a beach! Switch to LED lightbulbs. Walk or bike more instead of driving. When you are not using a plug, pull it out of the outlet. If you feel inclined to take a step further, invest in renewable energy, or change your diet to a more plant-based alternative. Encourage others not to litter, or even start recycling! Most importantly, educate others! You do not have to be a world leader, a celebrity, or even Bill Nye The Science Guy to make a positive impact on me. A little help from everyone can be a BIG help to me. As Helen Keller once said: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” I am asking for your help. It’s time that ALL of you step up and help save me!

Slides from Mr. Hegeman’s Climate Change Presentation

in Political Issues/Science & Technology by

If you have any lingering questions about Climate Change, feel free to email ehegeman@sjs.org for more information.

Created by Mr. Hegeman

 

Environmental Issues are Heating Up

in Political Issues/Science & Technology by

In June of 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States was pulling out of the Paris Agreement.  The Paris Agreement was an acknowledgment of climate change with a promise of a global effort to reduce and limit its effects.  After Syria signed the Paris agreement in November 2017, the United States became the only country to hold out from the agreement despite being the second-largest polluter in the world.  Since a recent poll suggests that 70% of Americans support staying in the agreement, why has the Trump administration pulled out?  

The first most obvious issue is a total ignorance concerning the true nature of global warming.  In December Trump tweeted: “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”  Similar to Senator James Inhofe’s “snowball on the senate floor,” the use of individual cold events as evidence against global warming is completely irrelevant and ignorant.  In fact, in the 2000s there were twice as many record high temperatures as record lows, but again, that is not the point of global warming.  In the last century, the Earth’s average temperature has risen .7 degrees Celsius.  Though this may seem insignificant (or part of the natural fluctuation of the Earth some say), this rate is ten times faster than any other natural heating of the Earth in history.  Trump’s cold New Year’s Eve might actually support global warming.  Environmentalists suggest that warming in the poles has actually expanded the polar vortex, which would make places like the northeast experience colder weather while the world’s climate is heating up.  To put it into terms Trump might understand: weather is the cash in your pocket, climate is net worth.  One day of cold hard cash doesn’t mean you can keep burning up your net worth.  

The other argument against the Paris Agreement is the loss of jobs. Trump spoke to a group of coal miners, telling them he would put them “back to work.” If we’re hurting the environment at least we’re helping the American people of today, right?  The entire coal industry employs, by the most recent estimate, 50,300 people.  While that may sound like a lot, it is a little over half of the employment of Arby’s.  Trump hopes to cling on to the coal industry rather than push for new clean energy.  He believes that a shift to renewable energy will hurt the American economy, but many suggest otherwise.  Elon Musk (probably a good guy to listen to), who left the presidential advisory council after Trump pulled out of Paris, suggested that refusing to invest in renewable energy will leave us straggling behind other countries in the energy sector.  Regardless of global warming, renewable energy is the future, and clinging to coal will leave America behind―not to mention the thousands of jobs that will be created by the shift.  

Trump’s decision was made from an isolationist, America-first doctrine: “Pittsburgh, not Paris.”  Unfortunately, Pittsburgh is also on the globe.  The Paris agreement isn’t for Paris, it’s for our Earth.  We are the laughing stock of the world because of our ignorance and irresponsibility.  The Earth is a finite resource, and without an exit plan, we need to make sure that we’re taking good care of it.  We cannot leave it to future generations because by their time the damage will be done. Hopefully, with the public’s support, we can elect a president in 2020 who will re-enter us into the agreement and help save the world. 

 Product of Errant Publishing Co.
Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/international/negotiations/paris_en
goo.gl/gkh27Z
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-paris-agreement-us-climate-change-donald-trump-world-country-accord-a8041996.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/05/most-americans-support-staying-in-the-paris-agreement/528663/
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/climate/trump-tweet-global-warming.html
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/31/8-surprisingly-small-industries-that-employ-more-people-than-coal/?utm_term=.c04b47f77dba
http://www.indiacelebrating.com/wp-content/uploads/Global-warming.jpg
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