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Running Out of Time

By Solmaz Salehi

The effects of climate change are everywhere, from the Arctic and Antarctic ice melting to the Amazon forest burning. People are struggling, and some are even dying, due to the consequences of climate change

Who is considered responsible?

The extreme usage of fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil is one of the main reasons for climate change. When greenhouse, which are buried deep inside the Earth, are burned, they will become liberated. Greenhouse gases act like a layer of insulation for the Earth: they trap heat and warm the planet. Evidence shows, according to Climate Atlas of Canada, that “ only increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can explain Earth’s observed warming trend.”

Deforestation and forest degradation have been worsening the situation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published an article on their website in which it explained that each year around 2.6 billion tonnes of CO2, released from burning fossil fuels, is absorbed by forests. Increasing and maintaining forests is an essential solution to climate change. Yet, in the past 50 years, 17% of the Amazon has been lost due to forest conversion, according to World WildLife (WWL).

Considering the Paris Accord in 2015, the United Nations stated that oil and gas production needs to fall by about 20% by 2030 and by almost 55% by 2050 in order to stop Earth’s temperature rising by more than 1.5° C. On the other hand, data from the financial think tank Carbon Tracker indicates that “Since 2018, major oil companies have invested at least $50 billion in fossil fuel projects.” For instance, Shell’s $13 billion liquefied natural gas project in Canada and BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Equinor’s $4.3 billion deepwater oil project in Azerbaijan, should be stopped if the world wants to attain the 1.5° C target.

Different governments are not agitated by this at all considering it’s the entire planet that is facing a major crisis.

How can it be stopped?

According to NASA, “Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades, if not centuries.” Seeing that it takes time for the planet to respond and because carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. “There is a time lag between what we do and when we feel it,” NASA explained.

It’s not too late to limit the worst effects of climate change. Recycling or using reusable cups are examples that will help but are not enough. Climate change is a global issue that requires policies, nationally and internationally, for clean forms of energy as well as local help from civilians.

A response to climate change will necessitate two approaches to the problem. Mitigation. The reduction of greenhouse gas emission is the most important thing that needs to be done in order to prevent climate change to get any worse than it already is. This, however, requires fossil fuels to be replaced by reusable energies. Understandably, the transition can’t be done overnight, therefore, switching to low-carbon sources and then reusable energies is an easier way to make the transition.

Adaptations also need to be done. Everyone needs to learn how to live with the climate change that has already been set in motion. The greenhouse gas that has been already released guarantees some unavoidable climate changes. The way each person can adapt to these changes is to figure out the impact that global warming has on their lives locally and figure out measures within their communities.

According to NASA, “Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades, if not centuries.”

What will happen if no one acts?

A research was published on WWL which explained damages that will be caused. The world is already 1° C (1.8° F) warmer than it was between 1850 and 1900 (the pre-industrial era). Many more impacts can be avoided if the warming stops at 1.5° C (2.7° F). Paris Accord signed between 196 countries is a plan that aims to keep global warming well below 2° C (3.6° F).

If we continue living with 2° C of warming by 2100, the sea level will rise by 1.8 feet, nearly all coral leaves will degrade, 2.7 billion people would be affected by severe heatwaves, floods would be 170% increased, 18% of insects, 16% of plants and 8% of vegetables will be lost.

What is the solution?

“We already have the solutions,” states John Nathaniel Gertler, a Dawson Green Earth Club executive member, who is also studying environmental studies. He goes on to explain that individual changes are great but systems need to change to see a difference. Scientists have already found different ways in which it can be done. Political will is needed. The strikes happening all around the world is students and civilians trying to get their voices heard before it’s too late.

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