Opinion: Climate Change Will Alter Our Children’s Futures

Ms. Elyse Martin-Smith, CVC Editor

Could you imagine the devastating effects of having your home destroyed by flooding or a powerful hurricane? Could you imagine constant heat waves, like in Vermont where they are used to skiing the snowy slopes? Could you imagine getting only so much water per person, per day, because your supply is drastically low? If we continue on the path we are on in terms of global warming, this could be our reality in less than fifty years. Many people don’t realize how quickly our futures and the futures of our children will be permanently altered because of climate change. One question we should ask ourselves is: What is going to happen and how can we fix this?

According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, “between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70% increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events).” This battle against climate change hasn’t just begun, but in fact climate change has been a problem for quite a while.

Based on this trend, scientists have begun to predict what weather changes may happen in the near future. NASA says that “heat waves, heavy downpours and sea level rise pose growing challenges to many aspects of life in the Northeast. Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised.” This is the opposite in the Southwest, where they predict increasing numbers of droughts.

These extreme weather conditions will not only affect humans, but they will also affect other animal species. Near the poles, “the Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century,” according to NASA. Chittenden Core science teacher Andrea Boehmcke proposes that “[the largest consequence for the earth] is going to be rising sea levels and flooding,” which will not only shift the water cycle but also wind patterns. She also explained that there would be severe droughts as well.

The main cause of climate change is the excessive use of fossil fuels. The Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2014 that 30% of greenhouse gases were from electricity, followed by 26% from transportation, both powered by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels contain greenhouse gases like carbon that trap heat in our atmosphere, which causes ice to melt near the poles. This melting ice causes a massive increase in water, and therefore sea levels. However, near the equator, the increase in heat will eventually become too hot to live there, which is why there will be extreme droughts.

Don’t worry, the future hasn’t yet been set in stone, and there is hope. At the rate we’re going, there is a projected increase in the growing seasons (frost free season). There is also hope for slowing the process of climate change by using a variety of different methods. Using renewable energy is a great way to decrease the amount of fossil fuel emissions and greenhouse gases. Other ways include being conscious of your environmental footprint, starting simply by turning off the lights whenever you aren’t using them. By using fuel efficient cars and carpooling, it makes a difference as well.

In conclusion, there is hope for improving this future if we are all more aware of how we are affecting the environment, because everything we do counts. Next time you are in a room with all the lights on, turn off a few. Not only will this save money, but it will also improve our future, little by little. This is the world that homo sapiens like us have known for around 200,000 years, according to Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. We should be the generation to help our descendants and protect the Earth we call home.

 

Bibliography:

“2014 National Climate Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program.” National Climate Assessment, 2014, nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/report-findings/future-climate.

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