Climate change and its effects are accelerating, according to scientists, with climate-related disasters building up, not only in our own backyard but around the world. According to meteorologists (scientists who study meteorology and weather), 18 of the last 19 years have been the warmest in recorded history. In 2019, we had 14 separate billion-dollar disasters in the United States alone. From inland floods to storms and wildfires, climate change is resulting in weather patterns that remain in place for a few decades to a million years.
What is climate change? Climate change is a long-term change in temperature and typical weather patterns in a place. This can also cause weather patterns to be less predictable, making it difficult for farmers to grow crops. Climate change has also been linked with other damaging events such as more frequent and severe hurricanes, floods, downpours, and winter storms.
What will happen to Earth if changes are not made soon? If global warming is not limited, the sea level will rise–which was predicted to impact 1 billion people by the year 2050. The question is, will we ever make it to 2050 with all of the Carbon dioxides in our air? The levels of Carbon dioxide today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years. Why are carbon dioxide levels rising? The levels of carbon dioxide are rising because of the fossil fuels that people are burning for energy. This includes natural gas, oil, and coal. Burning these substances releases greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere. When they are released into Earth’s atmosphere, these gases trap heat from the sun inside the atmosphere, causing Earth’s average temperature to rise. If humans are exposed to too much carbon dioxide, it can kill you.
How does climate change affect you? According to the state of Oregon website, Oregon is one of the top vegetable-producing states including many foods people buy at the grocery store; potatoes, green peas, onions, sweet corn, and berries. In Oregon, the Willamette Valley gets around 40-50 inches of annual rainfall. However, due to temperatures getting warmer, it lessens the snowpack, which melts into rivers and streams that farmers depend on for irrigation water. If farmers do not get the water they depend on for their crops, grocery stores will have short supplies of vegetables, which affects everybody who shops at grocery stores. Fast food restaurants will be short on fries from the lack of potatoes, corn on the cob will be harder and harder to find, and there will be little berries left for a nice smoothie.
When citizens were asked about their concern on climate change, this is what Senator Michael Dembrow had to say, “The fossil fuels that we are taking out of the earth and combusting are causing emissions that collect in the atmosphere and turn it into a greenhouse that traps heat, warming our oceans and our planet as a whole. This has become an increasing problem in the Industrial Age, especially with more and more people driving internal-combustion cars and trucks.” While this is what seven out of ten Americans think, it could be argued that climate change isn’t caused by humans. Marcus Williams said, “I believe that everything has an effect, sure, man can affect the climate to a degree, but as far as I know, we could turn off everything, and just go back to the stone age, it would only change the temperature or the climate point, 0.5% or less. I do think that Earth will have a problem if we don’t think about the future. But at the exact moment, I don’t believe in their philosophy of climate change.”
“I think that the main reason that I believe in climate change is that in 100 years or less we might not be here. Another reason is that there are so many animals that have gone extinct because of us. I think most people aren’t educated enough in school, or by media enough to fully understand the drastic changes that can occur if we don’t do anything,” says Eva Gosson, a sophomore from Rex Putnam High School. Jenny Rae, a sophomore from Milwaukie High School says, “I think my purchases are my worst habit that contributes to climate change. I enjoy shopping and don’t always consider where I’m buying from and the ethics of the companies I’m supporting. To combat climate change, I have gone vegetarian and try to reduce the number of single-use plastics I use. I also try to use the bus instead of cars when I can.” Bailey Bascos, a former student from Milwaukie High school said, “I’ve been going to climate change protests for about two years now, and I think the biggest reason I attend them and am so passionate about it is because our generation is the one that’s going to be affected the most in the long run. At this point, we as humans are really running out of time on this planet, which is terrifying, and I think it’s so important to put each of our individual voices together to create one big voice for our president and our leaders to realize that this is a cry for help and that we need action now.”
Facts and evidence show that humans have a degree to affect the climate. However, the controversial question remains, are humans the only cause of climate change? Has reduced plastic use and fossil fuel usage decreased the effects of climate change? Some agreed that reduced fossil fuel usage really is a step forward in the right direction, however, some people say it is a hoax and not a current worldwide issue. We may find out sooner rather than later on who is correct.