When earth’s temperatures rose just a few degrees over the course of a few thousand years, an ice age ended. The global climate is now projected to warm up a few more degrees, albeit, at an accelerated rate. While this issue is decades away from affecting us and we will not be around to see it’s grave effects, it should not deter us from thinking ahead to what we will leave our children; we must act now before we go over that tipping point.
As a human on this earth I care not only for myself but also for the survival and prosperousness of the human race long after I am gone. Over the last century we have seen the global temperature increase by more than 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. In many parts of the world the escalating temperatures have had an effect on weather and climate, such as normal rainfall becoming heavier in some places, or becoming severely dry and hot in other places. Now the lingering question is: What does this have to do with us humans?
Whether you believe it or not, it begins and ends with us. Normally the earth absorbs large quantities of carbon dioxide as part of the natural carbon cycle, which then balances out over time. However, the extra emission of carbon dioxide caused by us humans is not a part of the natural carbon cycle. Ice core measurements have come to reveal that the levels of carbon dioxide within the earth are higher than they have been in 800,000 years, and have been caused by the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. To put it simply, we are making the earth’s job more difficult to protect itself-and us.
As we move to a different part of the world, climate change has had one of its greatest effects in places that are already devoid of any rain. The Middle East and North Africa has become even drier and hotter over the course of time. In fact, average temperatures are set to surge as much as five degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. This means that rainfall within these regions, more importantly the Middle East, are going to become even more unpredictable. As reported by The World Bank, almost 340 million people in the Arab region will be affected. Unfortunately, the people who will feel it the most are the poorest people, which is close to 100 million.
In addition to the huge effect climate change has had on this part of the world, it is important to keep in mind how this affects people’s actions. Climate change is expected to reduce water runoff by another ten percent by 2050 while the demand will grow by 60 percent. It is important to keep in mind the psyche of the people being affected by this fact: What will they do when they don’t have food or water?
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley used more accurate language when he said, “One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria and the rise of ISIS was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis.”
Terrorist groups that have risen in the Middle East manipulate people’s prejudices, anger, and fear to their advantage so they can recruit more people to believe in what they’re doing. When you take away the most vital things to a human’s survival, it’s amazing what happens when you believe that the only way to receive these vital things for life is to turn to such extreme options.
The argument that is made by a widespread number of people is that they disregard global warming as being a real issue or denying that exists altogether. However, even Republican candidates such as Donald Trump continue to dismiss global warming saying we need to worry about more troubling issues. Yet, he cannot give a legitimate or truthful answer as to why we shouldn’t worry about it. I believe this rejection is due to his interpretation of global warming, mixing the truth with statistics that aren’t true.
The fact of the matter is that no matter how we put it, this issue will affect us for years and years to come. This past weekend we saw the world come to an agreement in Paris about reducing carbon emissions and providing, at the very least, the basis of something we can build upon. However, what we cannot do is simply think it’s fixed, falling into the trap that since the Paris accords solved the problem, we are going to be okay and forget about global warming.
We need to come together as humans and recognize that this is going to affect us for the rest of our lives. Whether it be ten years or one hundred years from now, we cannot be certain when we will reach a tipping point. I personally don’t want to be the one sitting here on earth thinking we had an opportunity to fix it now, then find out that we’ve passed that point of no return. If that day were to come then there is not much more we can do but sit and wait.
Rutgers Student studying Political Science & Government with a minor in Journalism who has an interest in the intersection of journalism and political movements.