Climate change poses existential threat to planet and humanity

Climate change poses existential threat to planet and humanity

Rachel Saunders, News Editor

As the election season is in final swing, I constantly see candidates espousing their views on television, some shocking, some reasonable. One of the most shocking were the stances of the candidates on climate change. Perhaps separating what is reality and what is fictional about our earth becomes exceedingly difficult when supposed leaders in our country are shouting differing views of such extremes. Four of the 20 original candidates denied that climate change exists, and a whopping 15 candidates did not even say they would attempt to combat climate change. Though I have no doubt that the majority of the Masters community understands that climate change was not “created by and for the Chinese” as Republican candidate Donald Trump claims, I do question how many understand the great threat climate change poses.

As most of you probably know, greenhouse gases are necessary to a healthy planet, or at least one that can sustain life as we experience it. They trap heat energy from the sun in our atmosphere to be absorbed by the Earth, and allow other energy to be released back into space, what is called the Greenhouse Effect.

Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases are the big four contributors to climate change. However, just as your parents may tell you that nothing is beneficial in excess amounts, greenhouse gases become harmful in excess amounts. Of course these gases are produced naturally during respiration, decomposition, in wetlands, oceans and soils, but human activity contributes such a large amount of these gases that the warming and cooling of the planet that has occurred continuously throughout history is happening at a more rapid rate.

The human-activity-emitted natural gases strengthen the greenhouse effect and trap the heat energy from the sun in the atmosphere without releasing it again. Hot and cold periods are natural for the globe to experience, but that isn’t the problem we are facing. The problem lies in the abruptness of spikes in the temperature of our planet.

Right now we are experiencing what weather experts are calling a “Godzilla” weather event. This event is El Nino. El Nino is caused by unusually warm ocean waters running through the Pacific and stretching to South America. The last El Nino occurred in 1997, when it was titled a “Super” El Nino. This one, however, will top 1997; it will be the biggest on record. Flooding will ensue in southern US with extreme heat in the northwest, leading to forest fires. The damage caused by the flooding and the extreme weather that accompanies such storms is disastrous.

Some people fight the existence of climate change with every word. Why? I do not know. Even if you disagree with the scientific evidence of climate change for some strange reason, that is no excuse to feed pollution. Pollution is directly damaging, when climate change may not seem so. An invisible threat is no less dangerous than a sudden one. I believe there will come a day when climate change becomes that sudden threat, but then stopping it will be nearly impossible. This is not an overnight fix; this is a global problem that needs to be fought every day by everyone. The burning of fossil fuels is a giant contributor to climate change. I doubt we could miraculously stop using cars or the stovetop for that matter, but that would be the key to mitigating this seemingly disastrous future. Green energy sources such as solar or wind energy would reduce the need to burn fossil fuels and hopefully replace it. Individually, turning off the lights when you leave a room, making a carpool instead of using two or three cars, and even eating less meat reduces greenhouse gas emissions. We all contributed to the problem, and now it’s time to contribute to the solution. In the words of Bill Nye “deniers quit denying and we can get to work and change the world.”