A Look At the Climate Crisis

Ellie Oakes , Reporter

The Climate Crisis. Possibly the most menacing issue of this century so far. July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on the planet in a 140-year record. July alone melted Arctic and Antarctic sea ice to devastating-and historic lows. Climate scientists have predicted possible ecological collapse, leading to mass extinction. Crop failure, spreading of diseases, destructive erosion, climate refugees.

While we do have many powerful activists and organizations taking impactful action, we also have people in positions of power and wealth that deny the climate crisis. Not only that, but research shows that the 1% of ‘rich’ people leave a bigger carbon footprint than 10% of the lower class or “poor”. So many people that care can’t fund climate research. Many people believe in “with money comes power, and with power comes the ability to make a difference.” There are many exceptions to this statement.

Many climate activists have come from nothing and have turned into the voices of our generation. Greta Thunberg, known for “School strike for climate”, the international movement she founded caused by political inaction against global warming, started a wave of youth activism by spending a portion of her school week outside of the Swedish parliament protesting for climate action. Now seventeen, she has been named the Time’s Person of the Year and does not plan on stopping advocacy for climate solutions.

With youth activism on the rise, many of the older generations have joined in the fight. Some though, who for most of their lives were uninformed on climate change, refuse to believe the science of it all because of things in their past that leave them without an open mind. It can be difficult to change your mind about something that wasn’t on the front page every day forty years ago. This is all younger generations have grown up with, it’s all they know, which makes it easier to believe that what’s going on is real. “(Without youth activism), There wouldn’t be as many people fighting for a change.” Says Milwaukie high school student and Climate strike attendee Annelise Cronk. While many strong activists are adults, there are just as many disputing motives and science instead of coming together to see the bigger picture.

Along with youth activism, climate change has become more detectable locally. On the north side of The Three Sisters area, There used to be a glacier that was the largest in Oregon. Oregon Field Guide Journalist Jule Gilfillan says, “I did a story for the Field Guide, probably in 2012. That’s called Collier glacier, and Collier glacier used to be the biggest glacier in Oregon. It’s on the north side of Middle Sister in the Three Sisters area. And this glacier drew the attention of Ruth Hopson Keen, who was a geologist to Portland State. Back in the 1930s, she would go up there every year, as I understand it and take a picture of this glacier. And she, you know, would notice that it started shrinking. And that she took pictures of that glacier well into the 1970s, and then a hydrologist at the USGS Geological Survey USGS geologic survey picked up the work from there and started photographing the glacier and he noticed a huge drop in its volume, and it’s now like number three or number four in terms of its size in Oregon. Due to the unique configuration of where this glacier was, it’s lost over 50% of its mass. You know (it) became a really interesting visual way to talk about how the climate has changed. And since glaciers are melting.”  Even though the effects of climate change are obvious on a global scale, those with doubt could most likely look at areas within their state lines to find reliable evidence.

Whether it’s activists like Greta Thunberg, or scientists like Ruth Hopson Keen, consistently focusing on the toll of this planet-wide disaster is essential so we can take bigger steps to reliable solutions and an ecologically safe future.