Let’s be frank: the outlook for the Arctic isn’t exactly as bright as snow. In the past 40 years we’ve witnessed massive ice melting on sea and land due to anthropological climate change, and with our continuously growing population it’s showing no signs of stopping. Even holding the increase in global average temperatures to 2°C as outlined in the Paris climate accords (which is far from a sure thing) could mean a rise as high as 5°C in the Arctic. Current climate projections predict the Arctic will have its first ice-free summer midway through this century.
We are increasingly seeing the impacts of climate change around the world: rising sea levels, more severe weather events, prolonged droughts, and the destruction of marine ecosystems. As our planet warms, the limited resources we share become even more limited, and this can have devastating consequences on a human level. For example, a recent study estimates that 2 billion people may be displaced from their homes by rising sea levels by 2100.
International Youth Day in Action
Yesterday’s announcement by President Trump that he intends to pull America out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is devastating on a number of levels. It is a repudiation of settled science, a failure of leadership on clean energy innovation, and an abdication of moral leadership on an issue that will determine the fates of millions of people and all of our ecosystems in the years ahead. In short, a catastrophic move with dire consequences.
Just because there are vocal climate change deniers (even leading top government agencies) that doesn’t make climate science debatable. More than 9 in 10 climate scientists are adamant about the facts. Climate change is real. This climate change is largely a result of human numbers and actions. If we don’t do something to lessen greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, our planet will become less and less habitable for many species, including ours.
The U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement, which aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, matters for four big reasons:
The World of 7 Billion student video contest encourages students to think critically about the challenges facing the planet today and to take that understanding to the next level through problem solving. One component of the video is to offer a sustainable solution to their chosen global challenge. Students take their newfound knowledge and apply STEM principles to design a sustainable solution to the global challenge and in doing so, begin to think like engineers, scientists, and future policy-makers.
The Paris Agreement was discussed throughout the 2016 election and became a contested topic - something that one candidate, who is now our President-elect, said he would “ditch.” This may not have garnered as much attention as some of the other controversial things Trump has said, but it may have the most far reaching consequences for our environment. To “ditch” the Paris Agreement is to “ditch” weather patterns as we know them and everything they impact – crops, plant and animal habitats, etc. It is to ditch clean air that we and our children breathe.
Like many Americans today, I am still processing how life in our country will be different with a President Trump. It remains to be seen how he will govern and how his priorities expressed in the campaign will manifest themselves in new national policy.
In just 50 years, the world’s population has more than doubled to over 7.4 billion people. That’s more than 7.4 billion bodies that need to be fed, clothed, and kept warm, all requiring a large amount of energy. Alongside this consumption, these 7.4 billion people are also producing vast quantities of waste. Consequently, the demand for energy and the production of waste are significant producers of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
Relatively speaking, the world’s oceans are an ecosystem that humans have discovered little about and remain one of the last frontiers of exploration. We harvest many natural resources from our seas and unsustainable fishing practices are pushing numerous fish species to the brink of collapse. The warming of the oceans affects coral, algae, and plankton and puts them at risk of dying out, impacting species up and down the food chain. The effects that humans have on our oceans are not as transparent to us as the impacts we can see in other environments.