The issue of climate change has been a problem for years, but it is evident that we are now experiencing the effects of it in our daily life. We need to be a part of the solution, not the problem. But is it too late to make a difference? Have we damaged our planet so much that it is irreversible?
The nonprofit conservation group American Rivers has named the Colorado River the most endangered river in the United States. This river provides drinking water, irrigation for crops and electricity for more than 40 million people and it’s shrinking. It’s expected to lose 20% more water in the next thirty years.
While South Dakota gets a majority of its drinking and public water supplies from groundwater, it is still a startling fact. Climate change affects water change. It means too much water, not enough water, water at the wrong time and reduced water quality.
Climate change is being experienced everywhere in the world. It changes rainfall patterns, floods, droughts, heat waves, oceans warming and becoming more acidic, sea levels rising and so many more things. All of these changes create hazards not only for the environment, but also people. Reduction of water supplies, agricultural yields, health of people, flooding and erosion are all impacts of climate change.
Recently we saw scientists protesting in multiple countries around the world about how climate change is impacting us, but society isn’t listening. These scientists protested by gluing papers and their hands to windows, standing outside important government buildings and sitting so long they had to be physically removed from the premises.
Their protests are not unwarranted as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report said to prevent catastrophic climate change, the world needs to phase out fossil fuels and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The downside to all of this, is we’ve waited too long. Even if we were to cut out fossil fuels and limit greenhouse gas emissions, we would still see at least a temporary temperature increase of 2.7 degree Fahrenheit. Currently, we are on track to see a 3.2 degree increase.
In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions were 12% higher than in 2010 and policies implemented at the end of 2020 won’t save us. We are still on track to see that 3.2 degree increase because it was too little too late.
In 2016, Verdis found that USD only recycled 6.9% of what is thrown out. Exactly 50% of what was thrown away was true trash and food scraps. The remaining 50% was 28% recycles, 15% compostable fibers and 7% glass.
There are little choices we can make every day to reduce our carbon footprint. We can walk, recycle and unplug electronics that aren’t in use. These little efforts can add up to be a lot in the long run. You have a responsibility to look after the world you live in.