The United States is only 5% of the world’s population, but is responsible for 25% of global emissions. (Photo Credit: Mei Lamison/Achona Online/Piktochart )
The United States is only 5% of the world’s population, but is responsible for 25% of global emissions.

Photo Credit: Mei Lamison/Achona Online/Piktochart

Environmental Issues Grow Worse than Ever Before

December 11, 2018

With the wildfires currently raging in California, the powerful hurricanes hitting the east coast, and the destructive snow storms occurring across the north, more and more of America’s population are beginning to feel the effects of climate change.  

The current warming of the earth is occurring more rapidly than ever before. Over this past century, the Earth’s average temperature has gone up 1.4 degrees. This is due to humans’ mass production of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases that are released into and trapped within the Earth’s atmosphere.

A United Nations report issued in early October highlights the severe effects of the warming planet. Written by scientists and released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the report predicts the Earth will warm by as much as 2.7 degrees by 2040. This, however, is if the greenhouse gas emission continues at the current rate.

“Unfortunately, I’m not surprised,” says Sophia Camacho (‘21), “An increased amount of natural disasters are occurring in the world already. 2040 isn’t that far away. It’s upsetting that in a big part of our lifetime we’re going to have to see our environment crumbling around us.” 

Many students have also expressed fear of President Donald Trump’s position on climate change.

“I think climate change is a pretty terrifying thing especially living in Florida where it could potentially really hurt us. That’s why I think this recent election was so shocking considering the party who won is one that doesn’t believe in climate change,” says Sam Cuttle (‘20).

Under the Trump administration, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement by 2020. The agreement’s purpose is “to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius.

“I don’t think talking about climate change would harm anyone but these large corporations that run everything, which is why the Trump administration or government officials don’t want to say anything. Hopefully they realize it’s about more than losing money but actually saving the planet,” says Cuttle.

Despite the recent United Nations report, Trump still continues to discredit the idea of global warming.

Although the UN report suggests that coal must generate no more than 7 percent of global electricity by 2050, the Trump administration is still attempting to create new subsidies for coal companies. President Trump has also moved to repeal pollution regulations in order to protect coal industries.

“I think that the current administration’s withdrawal from internationally-agreed upon efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions is dangerous and will have immediate impacts on our ability to maintain our current lifestyle. Though regulating corporations to ensure sustainability isn’t necessarily good for economic production, neither will be increased natural disasters, global warming, or rising water levels,” says Greta Dieck (‘19).

The UN climate report also depicts the consequences of the 2.7 degree rise. Some issues include worsening food shortages, intense wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs.

“If we were to protect our environment by doing simple things such as lowing our carbon emissions, we would save lives and improve the public’s overall health. Not only that, but we can also attain economic growth by using and developing more efficient forms of energy,” says Sofia Tweed (‘20).

The predicted damaged would cost an estimated $54 trillion.

“I think that this report is extremely comprehensive with quotes from scientists confirming that it is possible to eliminate the CO2 output. However, it’s lacking information from engineers or anybody who is actually tackling this head on,” says Audrey Gabbard (’19)

In response to the report, many in the Academy community are attempting to develop environmentally friendly habits.

“I do what I can to help the environment. I drink out of a reusable water bottle, I recycle whenever I can, and I dispose of waste property. I believe it’s really important to protect the environment. We need to save our wildlife. When I have kids, I don’t want them to grow up in a world where millions of species don’t exist. We take it all for granted,” says Reneé Rinderle.

Academy graduates are also attempting to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

“When I go to the beach and see trash in the sand, I always pick it up and throw it away. I think it’s important to do that because, besides making the beach look bad, animals can eat it, and it could kill them. Also, it’s not good for it to get in the water. It’s nothing super major, but it’s my little part,” says alumni Lauren Pieper (‘18).

What can you do right now to help the environment? Take the quiz below

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