Political Change & Climate Change

2015 was the year that over 150 Heads of State and Government, like Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, attended the Paris Climate Summit where negotiations were held and a Climate Change Accord was signed by representatives of 185 nations.

One-hundred and eighty-five nations

This was the most number of countries to ever come together to agree on something, and that something they agreed on was that we can not afford to let the planet heat up more than it already has. Every country that signed the accord vowed to do their bests to lower green-house gas emissions to prevent the rise of atmospheric temperatures by 2ºC (3.6ºF).

Maybe we should pause here briefly to go over exactly what the rising atmospheric temperature means, and why it’s a not-very-good thing: When things, like the burning of fossil fuels and livestock, emit greenhouse gases (like methane or CO2 ) trap the heat from the sun within the earth’s atmosphere. When the greenhouse gas levels get all out of whack, and the heat can not escape the atmosphere, the earth’s temperatures rise. Now it is true that the earth’s temperatures have fluctuated at points in history, but the thing that makes this current rise in temperatures different is at the expedited rate the temperature is rising.

NASA's explanation of how green house gasses heat our atmosphere
NASA’s explanation of how green house gasses heat our atmosphere

When temperatures rise so quickly the planet can not adapt. Ecosystems are very sensitive, so when the temperature changes by a degree or two, which seems minuscule in the grand scheme of things, it can actually have a profound effect on the planet; coral reefs die off, rainfall patterns change(some places have more rain, some have less), and ice melts(leaving some places with rising sea levels, and others with colder climates from the surge of cold water from the polar regions), all having disastrous effects on the world around us.

The Paris Climate Summit was a momentous time in our history. It was the first time this many countries have ever come together to agree on anything and what they all agreed upon was that climate change is real, and a threat to everyone’s well being.

Myron Ebell, set to head the USA's Environmental Protection Agency transition team, nominated by PEOTUS Donald Trump
Myron Ebell, set to head the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team, nominated by PEOTUS Donald Trump

Right now, in the United States of America, we are having a war on science where climate change is being denied on a very large scale. By this I mean that our country’s president elect, Donald Trump, has appointed a very prominent climate change denier and supporter of the fossil fuel industry as the person who will spearhead the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency. This man, Myron Ebell, has been at the forefront of organisations such as CEI, and Cooler Heads Coalition, both aimed at promoting climate change denial. Ebell and his organisations have been funded by big oil company ExxonMobil, Murray Energy Corporation coal mining group, the American Petroleum Institute, the Dow Chemical Company, and more. This man will be responsible for how the United States of America protects it’s environment, and many of the USA’s citizens seem to support his decisions. About 30% of American’s believe that climate change is not a real thing, and now the government looks to be set in a direction in which it hopes to un-do everything accomplished at the Paris Climate Summit

Climate change may seem like a far off problem for people in the United States, but there are many nations around the world which are struggling first hand with the results of increased levels of harmful green house gases in the atmosphere. Because I think pictures are worth a thousand words, lets take a look at some big figures when it comes to climate change:

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is currently seeing astronomical die-off due to coral bleaching. The main cause of coral bleaching? Rising sea temperatures.

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26% of the entire planet’s viable land is used for livestock grazing, additionally, 33% of current crop lands are devoted solely to livestock feed production.

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Methane bubbles that were previously trapped in the ice in the arctic are now being released into the atmosphere as temperatures rise and ice melts.

How can you help?

  1. Cut down on meat consumption
    • While the idea of going full veg or vegan can be daunting, even just lowering the amount of meat you eat can have a massive impact!
  2. Use sustainable transport
    1. Whether this means making the choice to ride your bike, walk, take the bus, or even go so far as to buy an electric car, all of these choices will have a much lower impact on the environment.
  3. Shut off the light when you leave the room
    • Simple as that!
  4. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth
    • This can save you, and the planet, a whooping 5 gallons of water per day.
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