Climate change. It’s an issue that has been known for decades. But is it too late to stop it now? Or do we still have time?
by Kiersten Ngeow
2020 is a year unlike any other. From Florida to California, we see extreme weather that is devastating our environment. Extremely dry weather turned vast areas into tinderboxes, igniting even the slightest sparks into massive disasters. While storms in the east coast have occurred so frequently, that we’ve run out of names for them—and we’re not even close to the end of the hurricane season.
But why is this happening? What’s causing these drastic global weather changes?
Climate change is the abrupt increase in the Earth’s temperature through the increased release of greenhouse gasses caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which leads to the trapping of the Sun’s heat. The more heat we trap, the warmer our planet becomes. This has led to disastrous effects, from extreme heat, the rapid rise of sea levels, and the increased risk of wildfires and other natural disasters.
With these effects impending on our world, a trilemma arises: is it too late to stop climate change? Or are we able to change the course of history and stop it?
It’s too late:
According to National Geographic, climate change has been a serious issue that we’ve known about for over 30 years. Despite this, NASA reports that CO2 emissions have dangerously continued to increase by “47% above pre-industrial levels found in 1850”. To put this in perspective, the amount of CO2 in 1850 was 185 ppm (parts per million) and on September 16, 2020, stands at 414.87 ppm (parts per million).
This leads to our question: why is climate change still on the rise, if we’ve known about this for decades?
Climate change is a big issue that has drastically changed the world. To stop it, we would have to enact immense changes to have a chance at stopping climate change. These changes would fundamentally alter our way of life and the world as we know it.
But what drastic steps do we need to take?
To have a chance at stopping climate change, these are the steps Franzen says we’d need to take:
The entire world would have to enact severe measures in limiting its carbon emissions. This could mean shutting down entire countries’ economies and shutting down energy and transport infrastructures.
Countries must act correctly in fighting against climate change. Globally, the vast sum of money spent in hopes of stopping climate change must be precisely targeted towards projects that are the most effective, instead of being wasted in marginal measures.
Every human being on Earth today would have to accept and adapt to the drastic changes required to stop climate change. This would mean adopting extreme lifestyle changes to stop climate change. Additionally, these drastic changes would have to be willingly. The issue of climate change can’t remain in the back seats of our minds, as Franzen says, “Every day, instead of thinking about breakfast, they have to think about death.”
The list of challenges we will have to confront doesn’t end there. In 2019, the UN released this startling report explaining that, these 11 (now 10) years, doesn’t mean that the world will end by 2030. However, it does mean that in order to reach the necessary goal of cutting CO2 emissions by 2050, the Paris climate agreement states we would have to start dropping the global CO2 emissions by 2030. If we don’t reach this goal, the
global temperature will rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius - a deceivingly small rise in temperature that will lead to devastating effects. History repeats itself, and although change is possible, it seems unlikely with how the world was in the past, and now in the present.
It’s not too late to stop climate change:
“Without hope, there’s no reason to fight.” These words by Sarah Jones in her article “When It Comes to the Future, Hope Is All There Is” explains how hope and the belief in our progress is the solution to enacting change that will positively influence climate change.
With the rise of carbon emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere, it can be easy to lose hope and to believe that it's too late to stop climate change. Through our collective actions, we can make a difference whether climate change can be stopped or not. We can’t afford to believe that it’s too late to stop climate change. If we accept this belief that it’s too late to stop climate change, we lose the belief that we can enact change. We can’t afford to lose hope and believe there’s nothing we can’t do; the world is at stake.
There’s this really inspirational quote that I believe perfectly illustrates this stance’s perspective on the fight against climate change: “Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.” Climate change is a massive problem, there is no denying this. As Jones states, “Our solutions have to scale to the problems they’re designed to address.” Massive problems demand massive solutions that need to be enacted to make change.
Although drastic changes will have to occur to address climate change, it is possible. “If the Earth is going to remain not just inhabitable, but tolerable, for anyone but a select few, the way we live must radically and permanently change. That’s only possible as long as we believe in our own capacity for progress. Pessimism is the reaction we can’t afford.”
But how do we start? It all starts with making small changes in the way we live. Even if it’s a little action, such as recycling or eating less meat, doing something is better than nothing. As Jones states, “Climate disaster is not a one-off, binary proposition. It occurs on a gradient, and so too will its consequences. Our actions will help determine the severity of our dystopia.”
Climate change is a serious issue that has severely impacted our world. Through the releasing of excessive greenhouse gasses, such as CO2, negative changes such as the increased risk of wildfires, rise in sea levels, and more.
Personally, I feel that it’s not a matter of if we have enough time to stop climate change, but whether we have the will to enact enough change to stop climate change. So, will we be able to stop climate change? I believe that we can, and it’s because when it comes to climate change, everything is at stake: our lives, the people we love and the world we live in. The amount of change required to stop climate change is not going to happen overnight. So, although big problems require big solutions, I believe that massive change can happen. All it takes is one small action to start.
If you’d like to learn more about climate change, what you can do about it, and more interesting articles I found while researching this article, feel free to visit the links below:
Want to learn more about the effects on climate change? Visit NASA’s site here: https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
Unsure about where to start making your change to the world? Here’s 101 different ways that you can fight climate change: https://archive.curbed.com/2017/6/7/15749900/how-to-stop-climate-change-actions
David Suzuki is a scientist and environmental activist, wrote this article “Why we’re almost out of time on climate change.” To learn more about his perspective check out: https://davidsuzuki.org/expert-article/why-were-almost-out-of-time-on-climate-change/