What will you tell your children about how life used to be when you were a kid? Will you reminisce about going on a school field trip to the zoo? What about your summer vacation? These simple yet memorable events are the foundations of childhood. However, the world around us is changing. Seasonal weather is inconsistent and animals are becoming endangered. Will your children be able to have the same experiences as you did during your lifetime? Climate change has become a controversial topic for debate. Some believe that climate change will drastically alter our planet and our lifestyle, while others believe it is nothing to worry about, and that countermeasures should not be implemented.
There are still some who do not believe in climate change, despite scientific studies and reports; The United Nations has a standing committee called the IPCC, or International Panel on Climate Change. This body issued a 148-page report with scientific studies documenting climate change and its effect on the Earth. The report, published in September 2019, emphasizes that immediate action is needed in order the reduce the world temperature by 1.5 ℃. Increasing temperatures have caused damage to the environment by altering weather patterns, decimating marine life and coral reefs, and causing irreversible damage to the ice caps. Let’s not forget about the polar bears. How can they drink their Coca-Cola on the ice caps if the ice caps disappear forever?
Are scientists just crying that the sky is falling? Why are so many not accepting this devastating reality if it is truly happening? Religious zealots and corporate raiders disaffirm this reality and have spent billions to refute its very existence. We need to encourage scientists to disseminate their reports and findings for the betterment of the planet. The fight for ecological sustainability is not only an academic one: it is a fight for the planet and life as we know it. We must reduce our carbon footprint, protect the arctic, and fight for the lives of endangered species. This is not just something in nature, it affects human communities as well; Hurricanes and tsunamis, crop failures, greenhouse effect, and the downfall of societal innovation.
Who is advocating for climate change reforms? Why is it so important today? One person who dramatically impacted today’s fight for change is Former Vice-President Al Gore. After losing the Presidential race in 2000, Al Gore traveled the world presenting a slideshow on global warming. These public presentations were compiled into a documentary called An Inconvenient Truth. With the accumulation of statistics and state-of-the-art graphics for the time, Al Gore presented a compelling argument for climate change as the foremost concern for tomorrow. During the film, Gore claimed that Industrial corporations were irrefutably responsible for the majority of greenhouse emissions. When this documentary was released, in 2006, the world responded in a state of horror. An Inconvenient Truth was so impactful that the documentary was nominated for, and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2007. The Climate Reality Project, an activist organization established by Gore stated that the film, “inspired millions of people to start talking about the climate crisis with everyone they knew and to personally get involved in working to solve it, creating a whole new generation of activists.” With this new wave of activism came a generation of children who learned to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up beaches and conserving energy. Today, this sense of activism has been brought back into the limelight by scientists and their concern for the publics’ neglect for the condition of the environment. One organization that has attempted to emphasize the issue of climate change is NASA. In July, NASA introduced a simulation that offers predictions on how quickly polar ice will melt and where. NASA also compiles satellite images of the ice caps at the poles and records unusual weather patterns such as wildfires and the increasing frequency of disastrous hurricanes. NASA uses its research to show the impact climate change has on the level of devastation and frequency of violent storms. This is another form of media used to bring the catastrophic problem of climate change to the public’s attention.
Nevertheless, many corporations that work with fossil fuels and hazardous chemicals blatantly disregard regulations and continue to undermine climate change campaigns. For example, Koch Industries is the second-largest privately run business in America and is notoriously known as the “Toxic Empire.” During Clinton’s administration, the government was pushing for a tax that would force climate polluting businesses to pay for the heat content of fuels. Koch Industries was outraged: they could no longer freely pollute the air without a cost. The head of Koch Company’s Public Sector admitted that Koch Industries would not see any profit if it truly had to pay for the destruction the company did to the environment; “Our belief is that the tax, over time, may have destroyed our business.” As of the 2016 election, Koch Industries has sided with anti-climate change organizations that stand by the belief that climate change does not exist. Since the 90s, Koch Industries has actively engaged in the politics of climate change. Today, some politicians stand by Koch Industries in their beliefs and do not want to fight corporations on climate change due to the economic influence large corporations, like Koch Industries, have.
Climate change is real. Its effects can be seen every day; prolonged and more destructive hurricanes, the recent spike in wildfires on the west coast, and more animals being drawn out of their natural habitats due to the drastic changes in their environment. Society must look to the future and preserve what the Earth has left to offer. I believe that the government should enforce regulations to prevent further damage to our planet and limit greenhouse gas emissions. International organizations like the IPCC should restrict businesses from being able to emit harmful substances into the environment. If we continue in the direction society is moving, future generations will not be able to have the same childhood memories as we do. Rising sea levels will lead to the loss of beaches, an exponential rise in extinct species will occur, decimating the earth’s biodiversity, and violent storms could leave cities in ruin and kill thousands of people.