Something We Can Agree On

I used to think climate change wasn’t real. That went along with my ignorant phase, forgive me for not knowing any better and being an adolescent. I didn’t research climate change, and there weren’t valid, trustworthy sources to give me information if I did read about it.

It’s incredible how easy it is to find the information you want to hear and completely avoid the information that could cause you to possibly reconsider your thoughts. That sounds like politics in a nutshell.

I know people like to claim climate change as a political matter, but I blatantly, wholeheartedly disagree. We all live on this planet, and it’s the only one we have.

What’s more important than the land we inhabit, the water we drink, the air we breathe? We wouldn’t be alive without the land we stand on, the limited fresh water we take for granted, and the air we keep polluting. We wouldn’t be here without even one of those things: land, water, or air. And we are threatening all three at the same time.

Since college, I’ve found immeasurable value in looking at the various sides of an argument, and there’s always more than two. Binary-thinking, thinking that things must always be in twos, was completely unraveled for me by my junior year of college. The world is not so simple to have two sides to anything.

During my freshman year of college, I wrote a paper in my Composition 1 English class about climate change. I thought my professor was liberal, even though I barely understood what that term meant anyway, and I thought I could get on her good side by writing a paper about a topic she may support.

My mother has also made an impressive career in environmental law, so I’ve been slightly more aware about environment than some. I decided to write my paper on climate change and look at as much the research I could find on the database given to us through the university library. EBSCO Host was the primary source, and I found various peer reviewed articles about the effect’s climate change will have on our planet.

I educated myself about what it was. I learned that the balance of world’s ecosystem relied on the temperature to stay at a gradual increase. For millennia, the Earth has naturally heated and cooled over several hundred thousand years at a time. Now, the reason this time is so different, is because we’ve sped up the temperature change so much that nothing can prepare or adapt to the changes.

At the time, we were at a 1.7 degree increase, and 2 degrees is the heating point that will eliminate coral reefs (due to ocean acidification), icebergs (ample amounts of frigid fresh water will change the direction of water in the oceans and raise sea levels above islands like Hawaii), and frozen land (melted permafrost will release catastrophic amounts of carbon dioxide into the air).

What I learned shocked me, and I realized how serious climate change is. I ended up receiving an A on my paper, and, in turn, I changed my own mind about climate change. Then I realized, my mind was never truly made up. I simply chose to stay ignorant because I never researched the topic from credible sources.

One of my most admired professors lent me a book by Elizabeth Kolbert, well two books now. The first book was “Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change” and the second was “The Sixth Extinction.” I highly recommend both to anyone who lives on this planet.

Each page left me feeling overwhelmed with new information about our planet, so the goal is to not get hung up on all the information. I powered through and got the main gist of what she was saying; many well-educated scientists who teach at the top universities and organizations around the globe agreed that humans are causing the Earth to heat at a rate this planet has never experienced before.

Because of Anthropocene (the age of human dominating climate and the environment) we’ve lost species of mammals, insects, reptiles, plants, and more because we haven’t given these creatures time to adapt to the world we’re creating.

It’ll only get worse if we don’t start changing our habits. Coronavirus made us realize that we can work from home and don’t have to use so much gas every day. More changes can be made, and I bet we’ll say, “why didn’t we do this earlier?”

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