Did you ever wonder what would have happened if Titanic was a modern-day cruiser, and not a 20th century ocean liner? What kind of outcome would have happened if her maiden voyage was on 10th April 2012, instead of 1912? How would have everyone reacted? Would the hull be made from much stronger material today? Would the compartmentalisation have been better implemented? Would her design and strength survive the impact to reach New York with everyone on board and alive? The simple and sad answer is none of those questions matter, because there would have been no ice berg to cause the tragic events of the now long gone and famous ship. Because ironically, one hundred years later, the human race is fighting something called climate change.
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is the shift in our planet’s climate caused by human activity and impact, mainly by the emission of greenhouse gas, which is caused by burning fossil fuels. Global temperatures will rise by at least 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next 10 years, even though we are already living in an environment that is affected by this catastrophic change in our habitat.
As it gets warmer, we will face scary weather events, like floods caused by the polar ice melting, heatwaves, and droughts, which will become very intense with the lack of rain and snow. Sadly, the people who have affected Earth’s climate the least, will suffer the consequences the most, because these are the results of years and centuries of misuse and abuse of our planet and environment. If we do not act on this as soon as possible, and if we do not become aware of our impact, we will soon face widespread hunger, thirst, poverty, migration and eventually extinction (of all species and life as such).
Who triggered climate change?
We do not need much help to realise that climate change is real. It just takes one look at our environment during our almost snow-less winters to notice something is off, and greatly different than just 15 years ago. Scientists around the world have been trying to find answers as to what happened and what caused it, and unanimously came to the conclusion: humans are the main cause! No other species cuts down trees uncontrollably, no other species burns fossil fuels, no other species produces indissoluble and toxic trash that is life threatening to species that are important for the environment and climate, no other species produces livestock that is overpopulating and therefore producing greenhouse gases like methane, and no other species found scientific ways around natural selection and overpopulated the planet to unimaginable numbers, which brings us back to the overproduction of livestock. It is a scary vicious cycle.
Who is the biggest problem?
Aside from humans from the past, who have contributed to the disasters that we are slowly facing, the biggest problem are people from the present, who refuse to take accountability, and who refuse to acknowledge that humans are to blame. It is the human egocentric mentality, and our selfish refusal to give up the things that we enjoy that makes things scarier and more dangerous day by day. If we were willing just to sacrifice a little bit of what we have, for the better of, not just the human species, but of all life, we could still make a great change. What is the evidence that we triggered it?
We know by now, through basic physics, that excessive CO2 in the air absorbs, traps and radiates heat. It is a greenhouse gas that has always had this ability, but since trees and all plants consume it the way we consume oxygen, and since humans didn’t count more than a billion members, it was never overproduced and emitted into the air to these extends. Our mindless and senseless cutting of trees, and overproduction of livestock, which are mostly herbivores, has led to the imbalance of CO2 emission and consumption, which gives way to heat being trapped in our atmosphere.
Through simple chemistry we can prove that when we use carbon-based materials, which will eventually be burned up, we emit CO2 into the air, and with the lack of plants that can consume all of it, this excessive CO2 stays in our atmosphere. Another way scientists have found evidence that it is mostly our fault, was through basic accounting of the things that we burn.
They also measured the levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the air, as well as trapped in ice (which is alarmingly melting) in the past 70 years, and compared to older collected data, only to discover that the levels have risen to higher levels than any in the past million years. They have been monitoring climate conditions, keeping an eye on the air, sea and land, only to notice that they are heating up. This is how we became aware of ice melting, and the sea levels around the world rising, endangering all people and animals that live in coastal areas. Since climate change can be a natural occurrence, scientists have also ruled out this possibility by paying attention to the ocean cycles, and the sun, concluding that the natural causes have not changed drastically enough to cause this much of a change.
And lastly, scientists have chemically analysed atmospheric CO2 to see that the excess comes from fossil fuel burning, and have employed computers whose job is to experiment with natural versus human-influenced simulations of Earth. And with all these different scientific researches in mind, scientists came to a conclusion, that is as scientifically accepted as the fact that smoking causes cancer, which is that humans caused climate change.
What can we do to reduce the human impact on climate change?
There are several ways that all of us can help make a change. It starts with one person, so first we all need to lose the mindset: “I cannot do it on my own”. Yes, you can! Yes, we all can! The first next step is to start saving energy. Most of our energy at home is powered by coal, oil, and gas. Materials that all emit greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. To use less energy, you can switch to LED light bulbs and energy-efficient appliances, washing your laundry with cold water, handing your clothes to dry instead of using dryers, controlling how much heating and cooling you use (not more than necessary).
The next thing you can do is good both for our planet and for you: drive less. Walk, go for a run, ride a bike or even a public transport. Cars are clogging roads around the world, while most of them burn gasoline or diesel. Relying less on personal transportation will keep you fit, and our planet smiling, so unless it is an urgent matter, it would be for the best to rely on your body or public transportation. Our third advice of the day is to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and less meat and dairy, because this can significantly lower your environmental impact, and again help your health, keep you alive and happy for a longer time, all while keeping you fit. The production of plantbased foods results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy, land, and water, and was proven to be a much more natural and healthy diet for humans.
Talking about eating: it is important to reduce the production of food waste. When you waste and throw your food away, you’re wasting the resources and energy that were used to make, produce, package, and transport it. And when food rots in a landfill, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that acts just like CO2.
Now that we mentioned food waste, we cannot ignore all the other waste that comes from our homes. Electronics, clothes, and other items that we buy also cause carbon emissions at each point in production. To protect our climate, it is best to buy fewer things, shop second-hand, repair what you can, and recycle.
Aside from reducing the amount of energy that we use, checking what kind of materials our home energy comes from is also crucial, and if it is oil, coal or gas, you should see if you can switch to renewable sources such as wind or solar. Or install solar panels on your roof to generate energy for your home at least during the summer.
In conclusion, we should first and foremost hold ourselves accountable and speak up. If we speak up, others will join in taking action, and the impact will rise. It has always been the most effective way in history to make any difference. Tell your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, teachers, students, acquaintances. Tell influential people who are mostly contributing to CO2 production, and save a tree. Giving up was never a good solution.