The world only has 12 years left before climate change becomes irreversible

Ava Riach and Abby Pikett

Photos by NPS Climate Change Response
The Alder Fire in Yellowstone National Park caused by climate change damages much of the area.

Global warming is the gradual increase in the overall temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere, and it can cause irreversible damage to the planet. In fact, 800 million people, about 11 percent of the world’s population, is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This is why action needs to be taken to save Earth from the damaging effects of climate change.

Climate scientists from the United Nations have warned there are only 12 years left for global warming to be kept at a maximum of 1.5 degrees celsius (C), which is about 35 degrees fahrenheit (F), before the Earth’s temperatures severely worsen risks of drought, flooding and extreme heat. This data means the Earth is limited to a stable temperature of 35 degrees F or less to limit harm caused by increased temperatures.

The 2010 Anderegg study found that 97-98 percent of climate researchers publishing most actively in their field agree that human activity is primarily responsible for global climate change.

The only way humans can continue to live safely on this planet is if they make dramatic changes in their lifestyles and behavior towards the Earth. Climate change is not simply the result of natural events occuring throughout history, but the combination of various actions taken by people throughout history.

Donald Trump, President of the US has promised to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement because he claimed the pact imposed unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. Jair Bolsonaro, President-elect of Brazil has threatened to pull Brazil from the agreement as well. These decisions were poor choices on both country’s behalfs since everyone should be trying to help climate change because of the facts presented.

“More than one thousand scientists disagree that human activity is primarily responsible for global climate change. The Cook review of 11,944 peer-reviewed studies found 66.4% of the studies had not stated position on anthropogenic global warming, and while 32.6% of the studies implied or stated that humans are contributing to climate change, only 65 papers (.5%) explicitly stated “that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming,” said

According to Conserve Energy Future, a website run by Rinkesh Kukreja that explains ways to conserve energy, The garbage dumped in the ocean every year is roughly around 14 billion pounds. Plastic is the major constituent.” This in turn, “kills more than 1 million seabirds and 100 million mammals every year”, and, “People who live in high-density air pollution areas, have 20% higher risk of dying from lung cancer, than people living in less polluted areas.” This proves that climate change effects are directly caused by actions taken by humans, which affects them negatively in the future.

Though many do not believe in climate change, it is obvious that what we are doing is affecting the health of the Earth. It is up to us as a population to find solutions to the damage created throughout the last hundreds of years to ensure future generations do not have to fix the mess that we made, and show them what to do to keep the world healthy.

Climate change is clearly already occurring and any fraction of additional warming to the already damaged climate could worsen the impacts of climate change in the near future. The IPCC stated that the increase of hurricanes in the US and forest fires in the Arctic are both signs of climate change.

At two degrees C, extremely hot days would be more severe and common, causing more forest fires. Compared to one degree C, insects and plants are almost twice as likely to lose had their habitat. For example, 99% of corals would be lost. Oceans are continuously suffering because of elevated acidity and lower levels of oxygen. The Arctic is currently warming two to three times faster than the world average. The whole world is at stake if people do not try to prevent more harm caused by climate change.

Over 10% of corals have a chance of surviving if the lower target temperature is reached. There are many ways to reach this goal, one including reducing pollution. Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030. Things that everybody can do to help climate change is taking public transit, riding bikes, carpooling and more. People can also turn off electronics when they are not in use, eat meat-free meals and vote. Voting for who is going to help the environment is very important, especially with the November 2018 US elections.

There is only one Earth and it is up to its inhabitants to save it. The next 12 years are vital for rehabilitating this planet. Every action taken by people, whether it is big or small, can have an impact on the Earth’s climate, so humans should aim to only take positive actions throughout the next 12 years and forever afterwards.