Facing a Changing Climate


CLIMATE Changing

Alli Driscoll

Our planet is changing, and not in a good way. Our technological advances in the past 200 years have been amazing, yet destructive, particularly regarding energy production and consumption. Over the centuries, we have been burning fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas. In 2018, the U.S. was primarily using fossil fuels for energy production. Natural gas accounted for 35%, coal for 27%, and petroleum for less than 1%. Together, these three major fossil fuels accounted for a whopping 62% of the U.S. primary energy production. Nuclear energy and renewable energy were the lowest, accounting for 19% and 17% of energy production respectively. While this is much better than the 100% of energy gained from burning fossil fuels in the 19th century, it’s not enough. Various scientific studies have proven that carbon-emitting activities– such as burning fossil fuels– are having detrimental effects on the Earth, mainly in the form of climate change and global warming.

According to N.A.S.A., “Climate change refers to a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described by global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea level rise; ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain glaciers worldwide; shifts in flower/plant blooming; and extreme weather events” while global warming “refers to the long-term warming of the planet since the early 20th century, and most notably since the late 1970s, due to the increase in fossil fuel emissions since the Industrial Revolution.” Fossil fuels are a highly notable contributor to both climate change and global warming, yet energy production is still primarily derived from fossil fuels. We have the technology to implement entirely clean energy production, if only there were funding and support from the government.

Clackamas High School sophomore Lydia Goodwin-McConnell believes that politicians aren’t doing enough to combat climate change. Goodwin-McConnell says, “I’ve never heard of a politician actually walking the walk and creating new ways to reverse the amount of damage we’ve caused to the environment.” The battle of planet health and political agendas is stalling efforts to reverse climate change, which we cannot afford. Aljazeera says that “A doomsday future is not inevitable, but without immediate drastic action, our prospects are poor.” These prospects were outlined in “a 2007 climate change security report titled The Age of Consequences, co-authored by former CIA director James Woolsey… leaves no doubt about the threat to the human species. ‘Armed conflict between nations over resources, such as the Nile and its tributaries, is likely and nuclear war is possible. The social consequences range from increased religious fervour to outright chaos,’ the study warned.” Lexi Cole, a junior at Clackamas High School, comments, “When looking at the circumstances that we’re in as a world, it’s very clear that we have to do something about the situation we’ve gotten ourselves into.” These circumstances may come true if we don’t take drastic action to switch to clean, renewable energy within the next ten years. The time to change is now, but people still can’t seem to reach an agreement.

Many older adults don’t display the same sense of urgency as millenials and Gen Z when it comes to the fate of our planet if we continue down this path. This leaves the youth of the world to take action, and they have thankfully accepted the challenge. Just this year, according to Mind Body Green, a group of kids from the ages of 9 to 20 are suing the U.S. government for “violating their constitutional right to life, liberty, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness. As far as they are concerned, any politician who supports the fossil fuel industry is putting his or her constituents squarely in climate change’s fierce line of fire.” Kids have been walking out of school to protest adults’ inaction. One 16 year old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, has become rather famous for doing just that. She has met with legislators and inspired people around the world to fight for Earth, kids and adults alike. Cole thinks that “it’s cool that she’s standing up for what she believes in. We need more people doing that.” Most teenagers know the terrifying reality of climate change, and exactly what’s causing it. Lydia knows that climate change is primarily caused by “human pollution” and that “We need to reduce the amount of pollution we contribute to the environment by relying less on fossil fuels and more on renewable resources.” If kids know this, why don’t adults? Why don’t they use their power as adults to fight for cleaner energy?

Some adults actually are jumping into the fight. Several politicians have proposed solutions to our climate crisis. One of the most notable solutions in the U.S. is the Green New Deal. The New York Times explains that “the proposal calls on the federal government to wean the United States from fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across the economy. It also aims to guarantee new high-paying jobs in clean energy industries.” If this passes, it would be a great step forward in the battle against climate change. In the meantime, we must continue to fight, picket, protest, and inspire people around the world to save our world. Humanity’s mission in 2019 is to ensure that our descendants live to see 2219.