The Dilemma of Climate Change

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Arav Wahi

Climate Change is a major issue driven by human emissions of two major greenhouse gases: CO2 (carbon dioxide), and methane. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. Major emissions of Co2 are cars, refining of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, gas, and even deforestation. Deforestation is one of the major problems driving climate change, as trees suck in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, which humans use to breathe. By humans chopping down trees in major numbers, Carbon Dioxide is reentering the atmosphere and the oxygen producers that combat it run thinner and thinner. At the current rate, 28 million hectares of trees are cut down each year! This means a football field of trees cut down every second of every day of the year! The problems are only getting worse for trees, as the Amazon Rainforest, which is the largest rainforest in the world, is facing record deforestation rates. More than a quarter of the Amazon Rainforest will be gone by 2030, which will most likely put it past the tipping point, and massive swaths of the rainforest will turn into a savannah, rocketing temperatures to records not seen before. All of these issues affect the global temperature rise due to climate change, which if the rise in temperature reaches 2°C, will cause massive disasters such as major droughts, famine, an increase in hurricanes and forest fires, and an unlivable environment for generations to come. Another effect of climate change is the rise in sea levels which will cause major cities around the world to go underwater or have routine flooding. Some of these cities are New York City, Mumbai, London, Shanghai, Cairo, and Sydney. The current Bolsonaro administration in Brazil has caused deforestation rates in the Amazon Rainforest to record highs since 2009 and stated that the Amazon belonged to Brazil, meaning they choose what they do with it. President-elect Joe Biden says that he will work to decarbonize the US economy and send support to Brazil to stop deforestation. 

 

By now, most people across the globe are concerned about climate change and the damage it will cause. Unfortunately, the task of decarbonizing the world is much easier said than done, as 64% of global energy is generated through fossil fuels. Decarbonizing the economy when almost two-thirds of all energy is generated by oil will be extremely difficult. On top of that, many nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela balance their sheets through oil and few other sources of income without it. On top of that, major nations like Canada and Norway make nearly all of their money from oil and fishing. Elimination of oil from their economies would cause major dependency on fishing, which is also on the brink of collapse. Due to this, efforts to decarbonize the world become extremely difficult despite the problem becoming more and more severe each day. If action is not taken, there will be an estimated one billion climate refugees that will be displaced either by natural disasters, heat, or drought. Countries like China, Sweden, the UK, France, Denmark, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and Hungary all have legally binding laws to get to net-zero emissions that will keep global temperatures below 2°C by 2100.

 

Regardless of countries’ actions (or inaction) to combat climate change, major steps have to be made soon to prevent global disasters and an unlivable environment for generations of children who will bear the consequences. You can help fight climate change by limiting the use of heating in households, investing in renewable products like solar panels or an electric car, using public transportation or a green way to go to work if possible, and voting for officials in your city/town who have such plans on their political agendas. Every effort can help the world get off of its harmful addiction to fossil fuels and make a future that is liveable for centuries to come.