To fight climate change, we must change the very ways our lives are run, so that sustainable energy becomes commonplace and fossil fuels are obsolete.
“Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it.”-Bill McKibben
I would like to remind my readers that Climate change is the rise of temperatures across the globe caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases by humans for the creation of energy and electricity.Thousands of scientific studies, satellite imagery, atmospheric samples in ice cores and the vast majority of scientists (98%) indicate that climate change is happening and is caused by human emissions. It has become clear that drastic action must be taken to prevent catastrophic events from damaging our way of life.
If climate change is not stopped, we will be soon witnessing a breakdown of society through the rise of sea levels in numerous parts of the world from the melting glaciers in Greenland to Antarctica. There will be more extreme weather events like typhoons in the United States and more importantly, temperatures around the globe will rise, leading to more droughts and heatwaves. If left unchecked, everyone will be affected by climate change, so ignoring and dismissing the incoming climate catastrophe will harm not only billions around the world including you and the ones around you. I would like to emphasize to my readers that the goal of this blog is to inform the public about climate change and its effects, who needs to act on climate change, why it is an extremely urgent issue, and how the public can act or cooperate to prevent it. Before we go further, I think it would be important to examine how climate change could create an impact on each and every one of us.
Climate change has a range of effects on us. They can affect us directly or indirectly in many ways. As an example, your town could receive climate migrants, oil prices could skyrocket, a typhoon could occur where you live, there will be more frequent droughts, floods, heatwaves and acidic rain could occur. Other effects include crops dying out, electricity becoming much more expensive, people could be infected by diseases which were frozen in melting permafrost and more frequent rain could disrupt the flow of life around us. These effects will not become clear immediately, but in a couple of decades, or even centuries, if we do not act with a powerful response to combat climate change, these effects will surely devastate us. Which one of the effects you experience depends where you live, but rest assured, you will soon feel the effects of climate change if we don’t act in time. Climate change is an incoming catastrophe that could leave our society in ruins, and no-one will be spared from its effects. The only way we can avoid a disaster like this is to try our best to combat climate change, so next, let’s take a look at the least you can do to reduce your emissions.
To help slow or stop climate change, people must reduce their carbon footprint, which is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the Earth’s atmosphere due to our actions/activities. Across the world, millions have changed their lifestyle for the better and have taken to reducing their emissions using ways like:
- Sustainable Transport: reducing use of oil-powered vehicles, cycling instead of driving to work, purchasing an electric vehicle, carpooling or taking public transport.
- Eco-Energy: turning the lights, AC or heater off when they leave the house, replacing their light bulbs and other appliances with more energy efficient models.
- Going Green: planting trees in their backyard/ city, composting their waste, going gardening.
- Empty Bins: using their own reusable shopping bags, buying food items with less excess packaging, buying foodstuffs in bulk with a reusable container, using a reusable cup for coffee to places like Starbucks, and reusing and recycling items. According to media sources, Germany remains the country best at recycling, with 56.1% of its waste recycled.
- Eating Well: eating less livestock meat, choosing organic and local foods, composting food waste, eating a largely vegetarian diet.
Urban and rural schools are essential to children’s lives, they give knowledge and education to the 1.5 Billion people who study under an institution, and they, alongside parents, have the power to essentially shape how children think and act. This is because by definition, Educational Institutions have the responsibility of ensuring that their students are ready for the adult world. If climate change isn’t taught as a danger or fact, schools are not fulfilling their moral responsibility to prepare students for adulthood. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which is composed of more than 1300 international scientists, we will experience a temperature rise of 2.5F to 10F over the next century and more heatwaves and droughts along with it, compared to just a 1F rise in the 20th century.
A UN study also found that by 2065, the average sea level rise would be 24-30cm, and by 2100, it would be 40-63cm, devastating coastal cities around the world. This means that today’s students will become tomorrow’s victims as a result of inaction on climate change, so if students aren’t taught how to deal with and prevent climate change, they will not be ready for the effects climate change will bring.
This is why I am appealing to all schools and higher educational institutions to do things such as:
- teaching students about the consequences of climate change and what they, as the generation who might inherit a climate catastrophe. At this point, the fact that climate change is happening is inarguable, and the data is already there. This is proven by confirmed data from NASA which shows the 8 inch rise in sea level we experienced last year, the recent 30% increase in ocean acidity, the 12.85% of arctic ice that is melting every decade, and the 286 billion tons of Greenland ice melting every year.
- Creating school-run environment initiatives and encouraging students to take part in these initiatives, as well as developing their own environmental projects. These initiatives could be simple programs such as ensuring that the lights are off when students leave a classroom, creating flyers/posters which students could spread, fundraising using fun fairs in which the proceeds go to environmental charities, encouraging students to contact or coordinate with local authorities or engaging in beach cleanups. These events and initiatives not only serve to help prevent climate change, but they are also a great learning opportunity for the students for reinforcing classroom material and bringing lessons to life. To help further this, schools could also link these events and initiatives to other subjects, so that environmental knowledge is not taught in isolation but instead incorporated in most subjects.
- Reducing or stopping school trips which involve flying in planes, as tourism accounts for 10% of all emissions. According to Boeing, the average Boeing 747 burns 36000 gallons of fuel over the course of a 10 hour flight, so using planes for field trips would be extremely damaging to the environment. Field trips could instead involve other modes of transport, and students could instead explore local landscapes, as location does not always affect the quality and quantity of the learning. These actions would help reduce emissions and help prevent climate change, while simultaneously keeping the quality of learning the same.
- Recycling papers and textbooks, purchasing metal cutlery for students to use instead of plastic cutlery and providing biodegradable cleaning materials to janitors. Using these items cuts down on unnecessary waste and emissions and also reduces demand for paper and plastic, two materials in which the process used to make them is harmful to the environment.
- Avoiding uniforms which are not biodegradable or harmful to the environment. More environmentally friendly uniforms mitigate the amount of emissions produced from making it, and are more likely to be biodegradable and better quality.
- Growing trees and other plants in school, teaching students how to garden and plant trees and encouraging them to get involved in local planting/gardening projects. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen, and are a sight of nature proven to improve students’ mood, so not only will they make pupils happier, but they could improve the outside air quality of the school.
There are hundreds of different ways that all educational institutions out there could help prevent climate change, so these are just a few of the most prominent. Educational Institutions and those who work under them have a pivotal role in this crisis, a golden opportunity to teach young generations to fight climate change, and they can make or break the effort to fight climate change. However it is not teachers who have the largest role to play in this effort though, as that title belongs to those who are being taught.
How students could contribute?
To all fellow students, we are the generation who could inherit a world decimated by climate change, a world where our current lives no longer exist and a world devastated as a result of inaction. We are the generation which possesses the timeframe to prevent the worst effects of climate change and put an end to this climate catastrophe. We have the power to possibly end a global catastrophic event and revolutionize human lives in the process. The fight for climate change is the fight for our very lives.
Scientists report that we only have 10 years to stop the worst of climate change, and for some places it may already be too late. Therefore, it is imperative that we need to act immediately and take definitive action if we are to save ourselves from a lifetime of disaster. Hence, I am appealing to all students to do things such as
- educating our parents and older generations about climate change, reducing our emissions and waste through the ways listed above. This is important is it spreads awareness of climate change, and can encourage older generations to also take action.
- advocating for politicians in favor of climate action, donating to environment charities, asking your parents to install solar panels.
- getting involved in climate change initiatives, contact your local authorities about climate change, join with or assist other students and your teachers in raising awareness, research conservation ideas and pay attention to any teaching about climate change you may receive.
- purchasing metal or reusable water bottles and purchasing metal straws and cutlery for home use, or encouraging parents to do the same, convincing other students of climate change and ensuring that energy is saved in school: lights and AC/heater turned off, smart projectors turned off.
This is the defining moment of our generation to save our planet. If we are to prevent the worst effects of climate change, it must be a united, strong effort from students around the globe, so no matter the struggle, remember that your efforts will always be worth it and appreciated in the end.
Now I understand that this might feel overwhelming, overbearing or simply too much work for younger students. Therefore, I would like to stress that you are not alone, that across the world millions of students will be struggling and doing the same as you, and that it is always okay to ask for help from any trusted adults such as parents.
What could parents do to help ?
Parents are one of, if not the most essential aspect of a child’s life; they are responsible for nurturing their child, providing the child with an environment where he/she can mature and grow into an adult and teaching their child about the adult world. A parent’s responsibility extends beyond the home, and the care that children receive from their parents will shape their lives forever. Climate change has now been proven as the dangerous and the defining issue of our time, and it is for these reasons that it becomes essential for parents to not only understand and believe in climate change, but to help their children in the effort against climate change. If a parent decides to take action against climate change, that would possibly carry on to the child. Parents can convince their children to take action on climate change and take plenty of action themself, doing things like:
- Giving moral support and / or encouragement to their children working on environmental projects and encouraging their friends to do the same
- Helping their children with their environmental projects and fundraising, helping older children network with influential individuals, organizations and local authorities whenever and wherever possible.
- Help spread the word with their children to neighbors and generally raise awareness through mouth of word publicity.
Parents also have something that their children do not: the right and responsibility to vote. With their vote, they can elect leaders who can unite an entire country to fight climate change, and the elected politicians have a pivotal role in the effort against climate change.
Politicians, Lobbyists and Corporates
Given their position in the government, politicians hold the power to bring change. As examples, look at how Former US President Obama united the country in support of the War on Terror, look at how, according to the WHO, the UN and its member nations eradicated smallpox in 1980, and most recently, look at how politicians have brought daily life to a standstill by locking down their countries to limit the spread of Covid-19. This proves that politicians can bring change for the betterment of society, so the question is not if they can but it is whether they want to act or not on issues such as climate change.
My point here is that politicians hold massive influence and power over us and our society, so, if they dismiss climate change as a hoax, they are preventing millions from taking action on climate change, leading to more unforeseen and destructive consequences. Nevertheless, that is not to say that there aren’t many politicians doing the right thing, from signing climate agreements to switching their country almost entirely to renewable energy, there are leaders who are prime examples of what a politician should strive to do.
However, unfortunately there are still leaders, politicians and corporates who have caused and are currently causing massive harm to our environment. As per the latest data published in 2019 by the Political Economy Research Institute, it was found that many politicians, lobbyists and powerful individuals have taken actions that caused emissions to grow around the world, putting profit over the welfare of the people at large. Often I find it shocking that Politicians,corporates, lobbyists have rolled back environmental laws, went to an extent of pulling out of climate agreements recently and purposefully lacked proper monitoring and accountability procedures in place towards various profitable establishments. These individuals have even contradicted their own government agencies by expressing disbelief at climate change, failing to take any action of preventing it. This had, has and will lead to damaging consequences to the environment, and is simply unacceptable, harmful and dangerous for me and the next generation. As proven by a series of irrefutable data published by NASA which state that influential people having not been active in, or refusing to take deliberative decisions on climate change, have led to carbon dioxide levels increasing by more than 200ppm (parts per million). Since the 1950s, global temperatures have been projected to rise by 6 degrees Celsius and the concentration of methane rising by 150% from preindustrial times and as a consequence due to an abundance of inaction taken, the world’s temperature is now projected to rise by 1.7 degrees Celsius in an ideal scenario and as much as 4.8 degrees Celsius in an extreme scenario.
Before continuing, I would like my readers to understand that Methane plays a huge role in contributing to global warming. Methane is a gas that is used to manufacture plastics and fertilizers as well as a fuel for energy generators. As reported by Oil Change International, the US alone in 2015-2016 contributed 20.5 Billion USD to American oil, gas and coal industries, and they estimate that worldwide, this amount of money hovers at around 500 Billion USD. In addition, the Global Commission on Adaptation, which is convened by 18 nations, reported that the world’s readiness for climate change is “gravely insufficient” and states clearly because of this reason, climate change will inflict an irrefutable toll on human life, as climate change will lead to an increase of poverty and water shortages and will trigger a substantial increase to levels of migration. By stating this brief explanation, now I hope my readers understand why methane is a greenhouse gas which contributes an important aspect of global warming.
In a time of crisis, our society needs politicians to act as leaders, who would advocate for definitive action on climate change, stronger and stricter and accountable environmental procedures, the establishment of protected sanctuaries, a completely green economy, and the encouragement of investments switching into renewable energy before it’s too late for us and millions of species around the globe. We need leaders who can inspire and unite people to take a stance against climate change, leaders who prioritize the lives and wellbeing of the people over profit, and leaders who are willing and unafraid to bring change. That is possibly the only way we can stop the worst effects of climate change.
On one hand we have a group of individuals who are taking action on climate change, and on the other hand, society in general expects transparency on every action taken, and I believe that this transparency is effectively portrayed in various forms by different media corporations.
Media is defined as the mass channels in which we communicate information and opinions with each other. I have defined media to remind my readers of the enormous role that it plays in our lives: it shapes our thinking, understanding and opinions on varying issues. For me as a teenager, it is a privilege to have access to an enormous amount of information, as it is something that gives us great knowledge but at the same time, could be overwhelming due to the media’s overreaching coverage.
I strongly believe that media groups have a moral obligation to contribute to society, especially since they play such a large role in people’s lives.
This is because they, like politicians, have a lot of influence over people and society in general, and can shape people’s thoughts and opinions on all issues. In the context of climate change, media outlets can use their influence to promote sustainability, encourage renewable energy, and spread the belief in man-made climate change. I am convinced that their efforts will be instrumental in raising awareness and persuading the general population to combat climate change.
On a final note
I would like to sincerely thank my readers for taking the time to read my first attempt at writing about an urgent issue and I would like to express the key points that I aimed to deliver with this blog. Most importantly, I would like for my readers to understand the seriousness of climate change, and I ask for everyone to take action to fight climate change as much as possible.
This is because I cannot stress how urgent this matter is and how much immediate action is needed from each individual to successfully fight climate change, so it is crucial that you do what you can to save electricity, recycle, reduce waste, cut emissions and raise awareness with yourself, then with the people around you. We will have to fundamentally change our lifestyle, routines and society in order to fight climate change or risk millions of lives in our generation and the next, and this change will not only protect us now, but help humanity for centuries to come.
Always remember, we cannot always depend only on influences and the authorities that govern us, as stopping climate change must be a united effort of individual actions, and it starts with you and your home. As said by Ban Ki-Moon, former Secretary General of the UN, “If we can’t all swim together, we will sink. There is no plan B, because there is no planet B”