The Current State of Climate Change

Updating Our Understanding of The Planet

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Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Many countries have already made pledges to reduce their carbon footprint. In this year’s upcoming Glasgow conference, world leaders will discuss their plans to reduce their respective countries carbon footprint, according to the United Nations. And, according to Forbes, the world needs to reduce carbon footprint by 45% by 2030.

Isaiah Prophet, Reporter

Despite what some may say or believe, climate change is real. And if the past 14 months have taught me anything, it’s that if a large threat is left unchecked, it can have disastrous consequences. That’s why it’s important to monitor climate change and its effects on our environment. More importantly, find a plan to handle this issue before it gets more out of hand. 

That’s exactly what world leaders did at the UN general assembly in September 2020, according to BBC. World superpowers, such as China, a country that produces 28% of all greenhouse gases, have made a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2060. Additionally, 110 different countries also made plans for cutting back on emissions. BBC has stated that in total these countries represent 65% of carbon emissions.

Chart showing average temperature increases yearly since 1880. image from Climate.gov.

While these declarations of change sound promising, until actual plans and details are released, there is no way to know for sure whether or not these changes will happen. According to Climate.gov, global temperatures have risen by about 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1880. They also stated that 2019 was the second warmest year to date.  

But what does this mean for us? And why should we be worried? While the ice caps are the most well known consequences, they are just one of several devastating effects climate change will bring about. According to Nasa, increased temperatures will also mean hotter and more frequent heatwaves, which will have drastic effects on agriculture and ecosystems. In addition, warm weather will act as a catalyst for level four or even five hurricanes. These tropical storms are well known for their power to cause devastation across coastal cities all across the nation. Hurricane Harvey and hurricane Florence are just two examples of hurricanes directly caused by an increase in water temperature due to climate change, according to C2ES.

Still, there is still hope for the world to recover. As stated by Forbes, renewable energy is now the cheapest energy option. Previously renewable energy while effective, failed to draw in investors due to its high maintenance and installation cost. However, both solar and wind installments are now able to outcompete existing coal-powered plants. New developments have allowed wind and solar to be cheaper than fossil fuels in many cases. So cheap in fact, that while coal costs about $64.55 per kilowatt hour; a single wind plant can have operating costs of only $32.11 per kilowatt hour, according to Meic.

Progress like this is good news, but the struggle is still far from over. According to Price Foil, annual carbon emissions need to be reduced by 7.6% each year from 2020 to 2030. Moreover, renewable energy plants especially wind and solar require large amounts of land and proper siting in order to be effective, according to UCUSA. In addition, many of the nation’s power grids were meant to only accommodate fossil and coal which means more time, money and resources to make the switch. 

All of this begs the question, what can we do as individuals right now that will have a lasting effect on our carbon footprint? The short answer would be to stop using up so much of everything. Americans count for 4% of the world’s population, but 12% of the world’s waste, making us one of the most wasteful countries in the world according to the NRDC. the New York Times suggests traveling less, cutting back on meat and dairy products, and turn off your in home appliances when they are not in use; these are just a few small changes that can keep keep our planet safe.