The Modern Apocalypse
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When you imagine the end of the world, what do you picture? Perhaps you envision a zombie apocalypse, an asteroid hitting the earth, or an alien invasion. Considering how popularized they are in the media, these types of scenarios are easy to imagine. However, many are still ignoring the apocalypse that is happening in front of us: climate change.
Obviously, a movie about climate change would not be quite as interesting as one about a zombie apocalypse, yet it is still important to raise awareness about the impacts and damage of climate change. Throughout the past few decades, Earth’s climate has changed greatly. Precipitation patterns have changed, sea levels have risen, ocean acidity has increased, and hurricanes have strengthened around the world. It’s predicted that sea levels could rise at least a foot by the year 2100. In the northeastern United States alone, increased heat waves and heavier downpours are already impacting our lives. Resources, especially crops, are diminishing since they are unable to adjust to the increased heat. More rain is causing greater contaminant concentrations in our water supply. Infrastructure is affected as the above impacts threaten the stability of roads and buildings, especially in coastal cities.
It is not just humans who are impacted by these changes. As oceans become warmer and more acidic, marine life struggles to find new ecosystems to survive in. Thermal stress contributes to coral bleaching, endangering one of the most important marine ecosystems in the world. Moreover, global warming damages Earth’s oxygen supply as trees disintegrate in wildfires and the ocean’s algae die out. Eventually, these changes may even threaten the existence of various species across the world.
Scientists have come to the almost certain conclusion that human behavior is responsible for these recent changes to the world’s climate. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been emitting an extremely large amount of harmful greenhouse gases, which then trap heat within the atmosphere. For the past few millennia, the proportion of carbon dioxide in the air has rarely surpassed 280 parts per million (ppm), even in warmer eras. Yet, NASA reported in 2013 that carbon dioxide reached an all-time high at over 400 ppm. This increased release of carbon dioxide can be attributed to modern behaviors, such as burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, and increased livestock farming.
At this point, climate change will drastically change the way that we live. Nevertheless, some people still do not believe that climate change even exists. Many argue that momentary drops in temperature, such as the snowstorm that blew through Texas in February and March, disprove the idea of global warming. However, climate change isn’t just the rise in overall world temperature but also the increase in sporadic weather patterns such as the snowstorm.
Others also argue that scientists are merely exaggerating the impacts of climate change as a means of personal gain to capitalize on a sensationalized topic and thus make their names and research more well-known. Certain organizations, often funded by fossil fuel companies, claim that dissenting studies often go unpublished. However, this argument is a misinterpretation of how the scientific research process actually works as most scientific articles go through the same process of peer review to be published. Additionally, scientists do not gain grants simply by publishing studies that support a popular topic. On the contrary, many studies that deny climate change are biased as they are funded by fossil fuel companies.
Another group of climate change deniers insists that the recent rise in temperature is neither a new nor human-created problem. Instead, they claim that this trend is merely in accordance with historical climate patterns as the Earth is prone to going through natural variations in temperature throughout the years. However, the rate at which temperatures are currently rising is completely unprecedented; natural processes cannot account for these changes.
Though some may attempt to discredit the existence of climate change, the human population is overall on the right track to slowing global warming. In recent years, governments have shown greater interest in protecting the environment from climate change. For instance, the Paris Agreement, a legally binding agreement between nearly 200 countries, encourages individual governments to reduce carbon emissions. In the United States, solar, wind, and other renewable sources of energy managed to surpass non-renewable sources in electrical generation capacity this past year. Additionally, everyday citizens are encouraged to participate in more environment-friendly actions.
To more efficiently prevent climate change, people must raise awareness and spread information about the phenomenon itself. It is also important to educate our younger generations, ensuring that everyone is accurately informed about climate change. In this way, we can stop the modern apocalypse before it reaches the point of no return.