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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/15/22

Why climate change is the most pressing emergency of our generation

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   6 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mark Lansvin

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For years, scientists have been warning of the dangers of climate change. In just a few decades, mankind could be looking at frequent storms, heat waves and droughts, melting glaciers, warming oceans and rising sea levels. These changes can and will have a major catastrophic effect on human, animal and plant life. The world will become irreversibly damaged and life as we know it will slowly (or quickly) cease to exist.

According to World Wildlife, as climate change worsens, dangerous weather events will become more frequent or severe.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published dire warning of climate change taking place today. The global average temperature has increased 1.8 degrees Farenheit between 1901 and 2016. According to EPA, "changes of one or two degrees in the average temperature of the planet can cause potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather."

These shifts are called "climate change impacts" because, as EPA notes, "they are the visible ways climate change is affecting the Earth." And some of those changes are taking place in full view, including changes in rainfall, more floods, droughts as well as frequent and severe heat waves.

And that is just on land.

The planet's oceans and much of the marine life within face vital danger as well. Due to the aforementioned temperature rise, the oceans are warming and glaciers are melting. As a result, sea level is rising and will continue to rise, placing all coastal properties - and millions of people - in grave danger. In addition, the migration and reproduction cycles of millions of plant and animal species will become severely affected by any major changes in weather.

Since the industrial revolution, which saw the use of fossil fuels, including gasoline and coal, powering pretty much everything, enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and ozone-depleting chemicals have poured into the upper atmosphere. Naturally, the accumulative effect of this has resulted in weather changes. With over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere each year, the dangers of climate change only increase.

The question is, now what?

There isn't much the average person can due to mitigate the long-term effects of climate change. Much of the world's pollution is caused not by individuals but by massive factories, especially those in the chemical and fashion industries. Unless major polluting countries like China and India undergo a complete overhaul and make supreme efforts to reduce emissions and change the way they create and use energy, our planet will continue to deteriorate. The enormous amounts of pollution caused by just those two countries alone is enough to doom us all - and that is not even including what other countries such as the United States are doing.

The point is, bottom-up the average citizen can make basic changes to their lifestyle such as driving less, creating a smaller carbon footprint, perhaps by replacing their gas-powered cars with electric cars. Being less wasteful, recycling more and maybe even traveling less are all ways citizens can contribute. Combined, millions of citizens could make a difference.

However, this is misleading. As much of a difference these millions of citizens can make, it is minute and just not enough on a global scale. It truly is up to the major pollution-producing countries such as China, India and the United States to cut back emissions, enforce green laws and take steps to reduce pollution in as many areas as possible.

What we must explore is how to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Human beings are terrible at mitigating but terrific at adapting.

Some of the ways we can adapt include protecting the coastal wetlands, promoting and implementing sustainable agroforestry, decentralising energy distribution and improving mass transit.

The goal of mitigation, according to a study by NASA, is to "avoid significant human interference with the climate system."

The goal of adaptation, is to "reduce our vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change. It also encompasses making the most of any potential beneficial opportunities associated with climate change." NASA points out that throughout history, people and societies have adjusted to and coped with climate changes.

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Mr. Lansvin is a strategic advisor on a range of issues for various NGOs and governments around the globe.

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