I vividly remember the first time I learned about global warming. I was seven years old and my older brother was doing a school project on the topic. I wasn’t quite old enough to understand exactly what it all meant, so my family put on a movie for us all to watch. It was called “An Inconvenient Truth.” Directed by Davis Guggenhiem, this film follows Al Gore as he campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of global warming, and urges for immediate action.
Gore presents the Keeling Curve, which is a graph that plots the ongoing change in concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere since the 1950s.
He shows the retreat of numerous glaciers, through before-and-after photographs, which affects animals that depend on them, such as polar bears, and allows for potential sea level rising.
This photo of an emaciated polar bear has gone viral on the internet. It has sparked a discussion regarding the effects of melting arctic sea ice, as it is reaching its “lowest minimums in decades.“
This groundbreaking film prompted millions of people to start asking questions about the climate crisis. It was the “aha” moment we all needed. “An Inconvenient Truth” allowed people worldwide to finally understand the reality of the world we live in. It was a call to action, and a call to change. Since this film was released in 2006, solar power usage has increased by 6800% and more than 1 million electric cars are now on the road worldwide, compared to 2006 when they were still in a niche technology. Extreme progress has been made. That being said, our earth is still heating up at an alarming rate. Since 2006, CO2 levels have increased by 5.5%, which means more heat is being trapped in our atmosphere. From June 2006 to January 2016, sea levels have increased by about 41.24 millimeters. These numbers seem minuscule, but even a slight average rise is enough to cause a dramatic transformation of our planet. Hurricanes and storms are likely to become stronger, while floods and droughts will become more common. Less fresh water will be available, negatively affecting anyone who relies on fresh water for drinking and electricity in rural areas. Disease will spread as a result of changing ecosystems and moving species. Ocean acidification will continue to increase, destroying coral and underwater ecosystems completely.
“Future generations may well have occasion to ask themselves, ‘What were our parents thinking? Why didn’t they wake up when they had a chance?’ We have to hear that question from them, now.” – Al Gore
More progress must be made.
Similar to Gore and Guggenhiem, I have presented the facts, the research, the images, and the quotes. I have presented the issue. And now, I would like to call for a change. What we are currently doing is simply not enough. The effects of global warming that we are seeing now are nothing compared to what we are leaving for future generations if we continue our current trends. We can solve this issue if we stay committed enough. What we do from today on makes a difference.
Restraining global warming will require completely changing how the world produces and uses energy. A change this large is very dependent on global leaders who are powerful enough to use their voice and money to help protect our planet. For example, President Barack Obama contributed to the Paris Agreement, which was the first global agreement enacted to tackle climate change, and was the first time countries have come together and agreed to reduce carbon emissions. Obama has also made an effort to force power plants to be cleaner, stop cars from polluting as much, pressured energy appliance makers to improve efficiency standards, and has invested billions in renewable energy. He has designated 19 national monuments, covering 260 million acres of land, to be protected from exploitation. Obama clearly understands the risks of climate change and has displayed an attitude towards this issue that every leader should have.
“As the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second largest emitter..we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.” – Barack Obama
Unfortunately, President Trump and the new administration do not share an attitude even remotely close to Obama’s. Trump has stated multiple times that he believes global warming is “hoax” and does not address it as an urgent issue. He has already made an effort to eliminate the progress Obama has made. According to reporter Rebecca Leber, part of these efforts include “instructing agencies to rescind a moratorium on coal leasing on public lands; rewrite limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry; and ignore the EPA’s current calculation on the costs of carbon pollution.”
This is who we elected to be our President. It all ultimately comes back to us. Leaders such as Obama and Trump don’t hold all the power. Ordinary individuals all over the world can and should make changes towards a more sustainable and “green” lifestyle. We can reduce fossil fuel use by using less energy or by using alternative nonpolluting energy sources such as solar and wind power. We can buy energy-efficient products, such as fluorescent light bulbs, use less gasoline, or even invest in electric vehicles and solar panels. Reducing waste by recycling, composting, and reusing items would also save energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Even planting a tree can help stop global warming, as trees play a critical role in maintaining greenhouse gas balance. An abundance of trees could effectively counteract the emissions caused by human activities. There is also a strong link between meat consumption and climate change. The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains, and ships combined. Reducing heavy meat and lamb consumption would help combat global warming.
A majority of the techniques I have listed above to live a greener lifestyle are completely doable for any average person. So why aren’t more people doing those things? The reason is simple: not enough people care. Only 17% of Americans are passionate or “alarmed” about climate change. This number is simply too small. According to the Washington Post, “even members of the public who are alarmed about a warming planet show relatively low levels of public-sphere action, such as volunteering or protesting.” These people feel unmotivated to take action because they think this issue may be beyond them. It was also discovered that the highest predictor for climate action involved other people. Someone with friends and family members that are willing to take part in public-sphere climate action is more likely to take part in the action themselves. This proves that this must be a collective effort.
It’s time to get worried; it’s time to motivate and inform others. Because if we don’t, no one else will. We are actively ruining this planet- the only planet we’ve got. There are no second chances. So let’s make a change now.
“Each one of us is a cause of global warming, but each one of us can make choices to change that with the things we buy, the electricity we use, the cars we drive; we can make choices to bring our individual carbon emissions to zero. The solutions are in our hands, we just have to have the determination to make it happen. We have everything we need to reduce carbon emissions, everything but political will. But in America, the will to act is a renewable resource.”- Al Gore
Final Article Sources:
- Staff, Grist. “An Oral History of.” Grist. N.p., 27 Mar. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. http://grist.org/feature/an-inconvenient-truth-oral-history/
2. Monroe, Rob. “The History of the Keeling Curve.” The Keeling Curve. N.p., 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/2013/04/03/the-history-of-the-keeling-curve/
3. “Emaciated Polar Bear, What’s to Blame? – CNN Video.” CNN. Cable News Network, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. http://www.cnn.com/videos/weather/2015/09/14/polar-bear-arctic-climate-change-orig-mg-nws.cnn
4. “An Inconvenient Truth Then and Now: What’s Changed for Our Climate Since 2006?” Climate Reality. Climate Reality Project, 17 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/inconvenient-truth-then-and-now
5. Richards, Photograph By Cory. “Effects of Global Warming.” Global Warming Effects. N.p., 23 Apr. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-effects/
6. “Paris Agreement.” Climate Action – European Commission. N.p., 16 Feb. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/international/negotiations/paris_en
7. McCarthy, Joe. “7 Ways Obama Helped Protect the Planet From Climate Change.” Global Citizen. N.p., 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/7-of-obamas-biggest-climate-change-victories/