OPINION: Climate Change Prevention is Everyone’s Responsibility

Living in 2022, most people are aware of what climate change is. Of course, we’re experiencing it now; it’s November and it’s 80℉ outside. Warmer temperatures, extreme weather, and melting ice caps are slowly causing our oceans to rise. Since the late 80s, climate change and global warming have been an increasingly popular topic – and with good reason. Understanding the importance of climate change prevention — recycling, reducing waste, pushing for more control on big corporations — is vital to the future of humanity and all other life on Earth.  

Just as generations prior to the 21st century, future generations deserve a clean, healthy world to live in. Growing up in an area they can walk around without having to worry about pollution in the air or the quality of drinking water may be an out-of-reach expectation for future families, especially those on the lower end of the tax bracket. According to NASA, in the United States alone, climate change could cause detrimental effects on crops, oceans rising up to 8 feet by 2100, extreme heats and droughts, increased wildfires, and changes in precipitation patterns. Of course these things are relative to area, since some places will experience things that others won’t, but all of these negative effects are detrimental to humanity as a collective.

To outline our relationship with the ocean clearly: Climate change damages the ocean, and the ocean determines our state of living. The ocean harbors millions of dollars worth of product that circulates in society. So, if anyone is looking for a reason outside of a humanitarian one to fight for climate change, the ocean is vital to our economy. As mentioned, if we continue on the track we are, the oceans will rise and continue to get hotter. This means that our global economy will be affected due to the depletion of many species such as tuna, grouper, salmon, and cod, just to name a few. Not only will this take the fish away from us for consumption purposes, it will also offset our entire global economy. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coastal counties produce about 45 percent of the United State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which creates over 3 million jobs within our country. Both the GDP from the ocean as well as the jobs that product provides contribute to the economy circulating. Losing almost half of the United State’s GDP would create an extreme lack of balance in the USA and the worldwide economy. Of course, if the global economy is disrupted, it will cause our lives as we know it to be disrupted, including schools, work, and our methods of entertainment, just to name a few issues. 

If we don’t do something now to stop the big corporations and the government from boosting climate change, we will feel the repercussions within our lifetime. Sealevelrise.com details that just in the last 20 years, the oceans have risen by 3 inches, causing a 233 percent increase in tidal flooding in the US alone. Imagine how many people have already been pushed out of their homes by the ocean due to a 3-inch difference. Now, imagine in 100 years, the estimated 8 feet, or 96 inches, that NASA predicts the oceans will rise. This could cause almost half of America, if not more, to be submerged underwater, including South Carolina. This could cause tidal flooding to exponentially increase, as many coastal cities would be under water, and people would be forced to flee from their houses. 

Some claim climate change is only a hoax made up for fear mongering in politics. However, over the past 20 years, the effects of climate change have become more evident. From holes in the ozone layer, air pollution, and an increased demand of fossil fuels, to rising oceans and mass extinction of major species across the world, plenty of solid scientific evidence proves this is a real problem – more complex than just the temperatures being warmer during the summertime, although that is an issue. States are beginning to see scorching summers and warm winters. In October, 2019, the national average temperature that month was 52.3℉. By October, 2022, it had risen by three degrees. Although this isn’t a big difference, the temperature increasing one degree every year could leave our shoes melting to the concrete before us high schoolers are in our 30s. 

The understanding of climate change, as well as the motivation to change it, is one of the key determinants of the future of humanity. People who have lived 60, 70, and 80 years won’t have to suffer due to the effects of climate change, but we will, along with any children we happen to have. On an individual level, people can spread information about climate change, recycle, be mindful of the amount of plastic they use, and look into policies within their county or state that are trying to support climate change.  It’s our individual and collective responsibility.