Did you know that 2014 was the one of the hottest year in the recorded history of the Earth?
It was not because of anything related to Kim Kardashian or Kanye West either!
According to the New York Times, last year was the hottest on the planet Earth since 1880. What does this mean and how on earth could last year have been so warm. Well, runaway greenhouse gas emissions are the main culprit.
This semester, we have been learning how exactly the greenhouse effect actually works and how mankind has had an actionable impact on global climate change. For example, as humans burn more fossil fuels to power our 21st century lives, more and more carbon dioxide emissions are released into the atmosphere. All of those extra emissions produced by cars, factories, homes, and businesses get clogged up in the atmosphere. With all those emissions, more and more of the sunlight that typically gets reflected back into space gets trapped between the atmosphere and the surface.
So, how exactly have increased carbon emissions in the atmosphere impacted the United States? For one, extreme heat has blanketed Alaska and the western US. The American West has been experiencing a harsh droughts that are completely changing the way many Americans live and use water. In fact, California Governor Jerry Brown has said that Californians have to forego water usage for things like gardening and carwash since freshwater is so scarce in the area.
Michael Freilich was interviewed by the Times and said that climate change is the major challenge that our generation will face. Increased global temperatures have an outsized impact on the temperatures of the world’s oceans which contribute to harsher hurricanes, monsoons, and winters which can cause traumatic damage to human and animal life as well as material destruction. Increase heat will also kill forests, plant and animal species, melt land ice and accelerate the rise of sea levels.
April 22, other than being a certain someone’s birthday, is Earth Day in the United States. Earth Day not only allows us to remember the environmental gain the US and the world have attained since the 1970s, but continue to marshal support for comprehensive environmental protection and alternative energy policies.
This Earth Day, partake in on campus activities that are being sponsored but also evaluate your own environmental impact. This can be done by calculating your carbon footprint online and committing to commonsense, environmentally conscious practices. Carpool, turn off excess utilizes that waste power, and write your local and federal public officials to ask them if they are fighting for our environment.
As Captain Planet would say, we can all make a difference in the fight to protect the world!
Shamir Brice, Brooke Hollowell, John Hopkins, Brynne Pavlovich