“The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease – an especially virulent flu, for example – that infects large numbers of people very quickly.” (Gates, 2015)6.
Many specialists have already predicted that the next crisis the world would face would be in the form of a pandemic. Despite such precautions, when Covid-19 initiated in December 2019, the world was not prepared. The virus is still spreading, factories are shut down, schools have turned to online measures, and people are locked up in quarantine. Thousands of people are dying.
Climate change is an issue of the same context, only on a larger scale with more serious consequences. Humans should try to actively prevent and stop climate change on both governmental and individual levels.
According to NASA, climate change is “a change in the usual weather found in a place” or “a change in Earth’s climate.”(Dunbar 2015)2. This means more than merely temperatures rising. Higher temperatures cause glaciers in temperate regions to melt and retreat, leading to rising sea levels. This can directly lead to more land being submerged; by 2100, experts expect oceans to rise up to 30 inches, enough to seriously affect coastal cities around the world.7 It could also affect the health of millions; the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that threats such as malaria, water-borne disease and malnutrition will increase.11 Although natural reasons can cause climate change, currently, human activity is the biggest causal factor. Research done by a group of 1,300 scientific experts independently confirmed that there is a more than 95% possibility that human activity over the past 50 years have warmed our planet.1 Activities like burning fossil fuels and clearing of land increases levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, or nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere semi-permanantly, blocking heat from escaping.
It is important for humans to take action to take responsibility and prevent terrible consequences from happening in the future on both governmental and individual levels.
Change must happen..How?
At a governmental level, governments must develop specific plans and politics to respond to changes in the environment, and seek global cooperation with neighboring countries. First of all, it is important for individual governments to strengthen relevant regulations, as companies tend to more focus on short-term cost savings rather than investing in costly environment-friendly measures. Only strong regulations can force such companies to lower greenhouse gas emissions and take action. The government can also motivate companies to turn to more environment-friendly measures by implementing policies such as carbon tax, a fee imposed upon the burning of fossil fuels. Moreover, governments can pair up with research institutes and fund projects to support the development of green technology and renewable energy sources that can replace fossil fuels. For example, in the US, the Department of Energy invests millions of dollars to fund various green technology projects such as capturing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or increasing efficiency of solar panels.3
To seek international cooperation, countries have to bond together through negotiations such as the Kyoto Protocol, where countries set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.12 There is controversy regarding whether such bonding is effective, as despite several agreements made throughout 2010 and 2015, emissions have shown an increasing trend.12 Thus, one solution to solve the ineffectiveness of international resolution is to have countries in similar situations to set specific targets. For instance, currently, 8 to 10 of 195 countries are responsible fore approximately 70% of all global emissions.8 It would be more effective for these nations to group up and establish specific agreements, without having to consider the needs of all 195 countries.
The daily actions of individual citizens can also alleviate climate change. One act would be to live car-free or refrain from using own cars, and use other means of transportation such as walking or using public transportation. Another way is to have changes in diet. By reducing meat consumption by half, the carbon footprint of one’s diet can decrease by more than 40%.9 Social scientists show that if “when one person makes a sustainability-oriented decision, other people do too.” (BBC 2018)9 This highlights the importance of each individual’s actions, even on small scales. Therefore, it is crucial for both adults to change life patterns and teenagers to establish such sustainable lifestyles that last life-long.
It is most important to accurately recognize the problem and take action based on a general notion that each individual is a “global citizen,” each sharing responsibilities about what is happening in the world. It is critical for both governments and individuals to acknowledge the responsibility they hold in the changes mankind have brought to the environment and take action accordingly. Only when a cumulative effort throughout the world is achieved can the world prevent the disastrous effects climate change may bring in the future.
(1)“The Causes of Climate Change.” NASA, NASA, 14 Apr. 2020, climate.nasa.gov/causes/.
(2)Dunbar, Brian. “What Is Climate Change?” NASA, NASA, 13 May 2015, www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-change-k4.html.
(3)“E: Changing What’s Possible.” ARPA, 13 May 2020, arpa-e.energy.gov/.
(4)“The Effects of Climate Change.” NASA, NASA, 9 June 2020, climate.nasa.gov/effects/.
(5)“Federal Action on Climate.” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, 25 Jan. 2018, http://www.c2es.org/content/federal-action-on-climate/.
(6)Gates, Bill. “We’re Not Ready for the next Epidemic.” Gatesnotes.com, http://www.gatesnotes.com/Health/We-Are-Not-Ready-for-the-Next-Epidemic.
(7)Nunez, Christina. “Sea Level Rise, Explained.” Sea Level Rise, Facts and Information, 27 Feb. 2019, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/sea-level-rise/#:~:text=Consequences&text=When%20sea%20levels%20rise%20as,fish%2C%20birds%2C%20and%20plants.
(8)“Strategies for Achieving Serious International Cooperation on Climate Change.” Strategies for Achieving Serious International Cooperation on Climate Change – Networks of Evidence and Expertise for Public Policy, http://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/news/article-strategies-achieving-serious-international-coopera/.
(9)“Ten Simple Ways to Act on Climate Change.” BBC Future, BBC, 5 Nov. 2018, http://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181102-what-can-i-do-about-climate-change.
(10)US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “How Is Sea Level Rise Related to Climate Change?” NOAA’s National Ocean Service, 3 June 2009, oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevelclimate.html#:~:text=Sea%20level%20can%20rise%20by,a%20rise%20in%20water%20level.
(11)“What Is Climate Change? A Really Simple Guide.” BBC News, BBC, 5 May 2020, http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24021772.
(12)“What Is the Kyoto Protocol?” Unfccc.int, unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol.