Climate change, or global warming, refers to the rise in average surface temperatures on Earth. This rise in temperature can cause a variety of problems such as rising sea levels due to melting polar ice caps, warmer ocean temperatures, additional rainfall, increased incidence and severity of wildfires, and more intensive heat waves. All of these lead to stronger and more frequent storms that can cause flooding and other damage. The cause of climate change is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal which emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases are trapped in the atmosphere and absorb the heat that the planet releases back into the atmosphere, making Earth warmer than usual.
Most scientists agree that climate change is happening and is mostly caused by human activity. I believe that climate change is a very serious problem and that the government should set tougher regulations to prevent rising temperatures. However, a small percentage of people doubt that climate change is real due to a lack of evidence or refuse to address the problem because it may hurt the U.S. economy.
During Bernie Sander’s first debate for the presidential nomination, he was asked: “What is the greatest national security threat?” He responded “climate change”. While I think his answer is a little overdramatized it shows that climate change is a real problem that people should be worried about. The storms, floods, and natural disasters that climate change brings about can cause serious issues here at home, but even more so to poverty stricken nations. These nations then turn to the U.S. seeking refugee and resources like food and water. Recently, the Trump administration has been lackluster in disaster relief not only for these nations, but also here at home with the flooding in Texas receiving very little aide. With these natural disasters becoming more frequent and dangerous and with the little help that they are receiving; I believe that we should do whatever we can to prevent them from happening on such a large scale.
One way we can achieve this is by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases; eventually lowering the temperature of the Earth to normal levels overtime. According to Jennifer Weeks, “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide — the main heat-trapping greenhouse gas produced by human activities — are the highest in 3 million years, and climbing”(Weeks). In order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions we must switch to a “low-carbon or carbon-free system”, which may take years to put in place. However, switching to renewable energy and fuels is necessary to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help ease climate change. Recently, President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which seeks to cut the greenhouse gases that scientists say are causing Earth’s climate to warm.
Trump also signed an executive order aimed at undoing the Obama administration’s climate change efforts. When he signed this executive order Trump said “I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations”(Ladika). However, in order to preserve the Earth and reduce the risk of natural disaster we must set restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions and switch to renewable energy and fuels.
According to Al Gore, “Shifting to a greater reliance on ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, butanol, and green diesel fuels will not only reduce global warming pollution and enhance our national and economic security, it will also reverse the steady loss of jobs and income in rural America”(Gore). Gore also proposed that we set up small windmills and solar panels widely throughout the electricity grid to sharply decrease carbon dioxide emissions and increase our energy security. This would also make us less dependent on oil from the Persian Gulf, Venezuela, and Nigeria, which are all extremely unreliable sources. With the recent outbreaks of wildfires burning across all of California, the time to talk about climate change has passed. Now it is the time to act; we have the technology available to switch to a low-carbon or carbon-free system all we have to do is integrate it into society and put a price on carbon until a more temporary switch can be made.
While we are making this switch, we must adapt to climate change by preparing for more floods, wildfires and other natural disasters. These disasters drastically weaken economies especially in developing countries, and if we can’t prevent these disasters from happening then we must prepare for the worst. According to Jen Stephens, “Disasters and climate change pose major challenges to sustainable development. They undermine livelihoods, access to natural resources, and food security for billions of people. From 1980 to 2012, disasters caused nearly $3.
8 billion in economic loss and claimed a total of 1.4 million lives”( Stephens). By not reducing our carbon emissions nor preparing for the increase in natural disasters, we are putting ourselves and Earth at risk.