Climate change is a term we hear far too often.
It is also something we constantly witness and experience. And yet there are still politicians that believe, and have tweeted, that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
According to statements released Jan. 18 by the World Meteorological Organization and NASA, 2016 was the hottest year on record.
This is not a singular change, as over the course of the last three years, each year has been hotter than the one previous. Even Philadelphia has felt the change, with 2016’s average temperature reaching 58.6 degrees according to Weather Underground, which was 0.8 degrees higher than 2015’s average.
It is such a simple phenomenon.
Naturally, the most common element on Earth that gets passed around from the atmosphere, to the grass, even to all animals and humans, is carbon. It’s a well known checks-and-balances system that maintains the planet. The burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide and, more importantly, carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to thicken, trapping more short-wave radiation, producing an increase in average temperature.
The consequences reach far and wide, some of them even reach close to home. At the current rate which greenhouse gases are being emitted, Camden and South Philadelphia could be significantly flooded within about 50 years. In another 50 years, much of Center City would also be at risk, potentially displacing millions.
Not only that, but species are going extinct at a faster rate than at any other time in modern history. Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert described climate change as well as its numerous symptoms as a “sixth extinction,”, but unlike mass extinctions of the past, humans are the cause, and worse still, humans as a whole are aware that we are the cause.
So the question remains, why have we still not taken action? This despite the fact that 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real, man-made and an immediate threat.
The main problem comes from the 3 percent of scientists who believe that climate change is not real. According to them, it is just a fantasy, an absolute hoax. This is the opinion that 36 percent of Americans are receiving, whether it be from their local news source, their local politicians, or even from the president of the United States himself, who, mere minutes into his presidency deleted information from the White House website on global warming.
Even President Trump’s pick for secretary of energy, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has described climate change as “one contrived phony mess” and a “so-called science.” Perry’s even gone so far as to criticize the Department of Defense for dedicating three pages to climate change, describing it as a national security risk.
However, the overwhelming evidence shows that the 3 percent of scientists and the 36 percent of Americans are wrong.
This is not up to interpretation, and this cannot be decided in a poll. Those who don’t believe that climate change is real and is either a hoax or an overreaction are plain ignorant of the facts.
We need to take action immediately if we want to not only save ourselves, but our future generations. Even doing simple things such as turning out the light as you leave a room or supporting your local politicians who believe in making clean energy more affordable can help.
As the adage goes, “we only have one Earth, so we better start taking care of it.”