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November 30, 2020

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The fate of the climate rests upon my generation’s shoulders

It is clearly evident that helping care for the environment is in our own interest

By Amelia Alexander
Note: Amelia, an Ada HS student, is the Icon's newest columnist. Writing twice a month, this is her second column. Click here to read her first column. You will find all her future columns on our "Columnists" page.

The fate of the climate rests upon my generation’s shoulders.

We have been encumbered with the task of dealing with climate change.  We are running out of time to solve this substantial dilemma. There is so much to unpack with climate change. This certainly is not the last time you will hear me speak about it, or environmental issues in general. 

Today, I want to merely establish what climate change is, how it has occurred, and the problems it has caused.   

What is Climate Change?  
Climate change is a long-term change in average conditions, like rainfall and temperature. The earth’s climate has been changing even without the influence of humans; however, due to human contribution, the rate at which it has been changing has had catastrophic effects, and has rendered scientists very concerned. 

According to NASA, the temperature of the earth’s surface has gone up about 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years. That may sound like an insignificant statistic, but even 1-2 degrees can have a huge impact on the world.  

Why has this happened?  
Scientists claim that climate change is a result of human impact on the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is when greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere.  

Humans have contributed to this by burning fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.  The process of burning fossil fuels combines oxygen with carbon in the air, creating carbon dioxide. 

Humans also use electricity, modern transportation, and contribute to deforestation. This is causing an increase in carbon dioxide emissions, which is raising the earth’s temperature and contributing to climate change (Tiseo Ian, https://www.statista.com/statistics/264699/worldwide-co2-emissions). 

What problems are a result of climate change?
Results of climate change include the following problems: rising sea levels, shrinking mountain glaciers, and ice melting at a faster rate than usual in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic.  

Eleven percent of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise (www.conservation.org). 

This also affects animals. Droughts, floods, heat waves, and the melting of sea ice destroys ecosystems. When ecosystems are destroyed, biodiversity is lost. Biodiversity is essential for supplying oxygen, clean air and water, pollination of plants, pest control, wastewater treatment and many ecosystem services. Biodiversity is vital to preserve for the sake of human beings.  

Stay tuned for future articles that dissect more environmental problems, and supply things that you can do to create meaningful change. It is clearly evident that helping care for the environment is in our own interest.

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