Climate Change: Now is the only time we have to act


Flickr/NASA Goddard

Sea ice shrinkage over 30 years.

Stephan Maranian, Crier Staff

The Earth is experiencing an unprecedented alteration in the dynamic known as climate change. Its effects can already be seen in most, if not all, areas of the world. A vast number of individuals and organizations have taken a stance against climate change by spreading awareness of it and calling for government action.

Heavy opposition, especially from the current Congress, has slowed down and limited progress. For years the government and public have been informed on climate change and the message has been quite simple- if we continue to go about business as usual we will most certainly see severe implications to our Earth.

Unfortunately, money from and for big oil companies has persuaded not only politicians but scientists as well to disregard climate change as some sort of joke. The fact of the matter is climate change must be addressed on a worldwide scale and it must be done now.

Rising sea levels are a primary concern in regard to climate change. Melting glaciers at the poles increase the volume of water present in the oceans. Higher temperatures warm water and cause it to expand, thus causing a rise in sea level. Projections show that oceans will rise to over 6 feet above current sea level if warming continues. This means most, if not all, of the East Coast will be under water. Florida in particular is at exceptional risk because it is surrounded by ocean on both sides and places like Miami Beach are built at the current sea level, with almost nothing separating the city from the sea.

Populations continue to grow exponentially and as a result, cities do as well. More and more land is cleared for construction to maximize space for the growing population. The area alongside streams and rivers is known as the riparian zone. Vegetation here is vital to the regulation of overflow on land as well as to reduce erosion.

As more land is cleared, the riparian zone is gradually diminished and impervious surfaces like roads and parking lots are built. This results in more disastrous storms and floods because there is nothing to absorb the water- it just flows right into the river which causes quick, disastrous flooding.

There is a limited supply of oil on the Earth. Once it goes, all forms of oil and gas, plastics, and fibers go with it. The United States’ infrastructure is based off of oil and fossil fuels. Moving to renewable energy would not only combat climate change but it would prepare the country for the future. This move would also empower the U.S. because the country would completely power itself. Solar energy alone could power the entire country by setting just 0.6% of the country for solar plants. American renewable industry would power the entire country, create millions of jobs, destroy the country’s reliance on foreign fuel, and reduce the price of energy considerably.

In April of 2016 over 150 countries came together in Paris and came up with the Paris Agreement in which countries agree to work together to curb CO2 emissions by large percentages and eventually work towards zero net emissions. This was an incredibly important event because not only did it bring the world together to discuss how they would deal with climate change on a world scale, it also outlined a gradual transition for each country to follow that eventually would result in zero net emissions between 2050 and 2100.

Since he took office in 2009, President Obama has closed over 400 coal mines to combat climate change. This is commendable except for the fact that over 83,000 Americans who worked as coal miners lost their jobs. However, there is great opportunity here for renewable energy. Not only is there a work force, but there is land that can be used for development. Whether it be wind farms or solar farms, the areas around the U.S. that were once coal mines could be converted for the renewable energy industry. This would put thousands of Americans back to work and give economic relief to regions of the country that are seriously struggling due to the move away from coal.

There is a mentality amongst Americans in which they do not want to see solar panels or wind turbines because they are “eye sores”. Many people know the benefits of solar panels for energy but they choose not to install them on their homes because they “look bad”. The same goes for whenever a wind turbine is proposed to be installed in a local neighborhood.

Even the idea of wind farms far offshore are vetoed amongst locals. Is an abandoned coal mine any better? Is a leaking oil rig any different?

Powerlines and pipelines can be found from one side of the continent to the other. The complaint that solar panels and wind turbines are eyesores seems like a pretty pathetic excuse when all this is taken into account.

The environmental problems of today will not be solved without action. The United States needs to act quickly and immediately to combat climate change. The conversion to renewable energy will not only combat climate change and global warming, it will also prepare the country for the energy crisis that would ensue in the near future if oil remains the source of energy.

The U.S. has an opportunity to do something great not just for itself but for the entire world. Renewable energy would be produced on U.S. soil by U.S. industries. Being entirely independent of any other nation for energy, and by doing so revamping American industry is how America will become great again.