Climate change: time to act

Imagine a world in which sea levels rise to the point that places like Cape Cod and much of Florida become submerged, a world where people have to evacuate from coastal cities such as Boston and New York as water comes crashing through their streets.

That world, although it sounds distant and apocalyptic, will soon be looming upon us and future generations if our nation’s government and many of its citizens continue to brush climate change aside as a problem to tackle ‘down the road.’ Andrew Wheeler, the 15th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, recently stated that “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out [and that we should be] focused on the people who are dying today.”

Although the EPA should definitely address other issues impacting people’s lives such as pollution and water scarcity, they also should not throw away the issue of climate change just because it seems like a distant threat. As climate change increases in scale and intensity throughout the world, it will create shifts in climate that lead to droughts and greater water scarcity. Climate change is clearly a global problem that synergizes with other environmental problems, which is all the more reason for the EPA to take action now against climate change.

Others in our current government do not believe in climate change action either. President Trump, for example, has made multiple claims this past winter that cold weather in certain places of the U.S. mean that climate change is not real. He could not be further from the truth. Trump’s claims reveal his lack of knowledge regarding basic environmental science facts.

By claiming that cold temperatures during the winter are evidence that climate change is “fake news,” Trump is completely disregarding the difference between the terms weather and climate. He should have learned in a science class along the road that weather is made up of the short-term conditions of the atmosphere in a local area, while climate is the average weather that occurs in a given region over a long period of time.

Although climate change does not mean that regions such as New England will immediately stop experiencing cold winters, there are already a multitude of impacts that it has had on our precious planet. Arctic sea ice is melting more than in living history, polar bears are starving to death by the day, sea levels are continuing to rise, the intensity of storms continues to increase, and California has just experienced the most devastating fires in its recorded history.

Despite all those impacts, acting “now” against climate change would be difficult for many people because they simply do not have the financial means to live a largely carbon-free and environmentally friendly lifestyle. In order for our country to collectively fight against climate change, the government needs to accept the scientific truth that climate change is a clear and present danger to our nation. They need to pass legislation that combats climate change and subsidize the use of clean energy, such as making hybrid and electric cars very affordable, subsidizing green building, and incentivizing solar.

As a nation it will be too late if we follow Wheeler’s claim that this problem is 50-75 years out. For the future of Earth’s ecosystems and diverse wildlife, for the future of global human health, and for the future of our economy, food supply, and lives, we must act now.