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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Global climate change won’t fizzle out, even if Coke does

    The phrase “climate change” has crept past the lips of “concerned” news reporters, surfaced in the speeches of politicians hungry for votes and echoed through courtrooms as proposed bills have come and gone; all the while, the potential for change has fallen by the wayside.

    Most American citizens have heard the reports about how humans are contributing to the effects of climate change through excessive greenhouse gas emissions. Yet many dismiss these warnings and continue to release the gases at alarming rates.

    This is not a matter of crying wolf. Denial will be our downfall.

    The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that “humans have most likely caused all of the global warming over the past 60 years,” according to an article by The Guardian — a statement that has merited a 97 percent consensus among climate experts.

    Citizens are less sure. Researchers from Yale University and George Mason University reported that the number of Americans who don’t believe that climate change is occurring has increased by 7 percent since the spring of 2013, reaching a six-year high of 23 percent.

    Other than viewing the occasional public service announcement featuring a stranded polar bear on a slushy block of ice, many Americans would rather pretend that climate change warnings do not exist. Nobody wants to admit that their failure to recycle and ride a bicycle could eventually lead to the downfall of our ecosystem.

    But the fact is, we’re running out of time.

    In The Guardian, climate scientists warn that if the emission of greenhouse gases does not decrease, humanity will face dire consequences in the next two to three decades, as the climate warms more than 2 degrees Celsius. Sea levels will rise, oceans will become more acidic and we will suffer heat waves, droughts and other extreme types of weather.

    The implications of these events are hard to fathom when written on paper, but some major climate shifts have already given us a taste of the impending chaos.

    Researchers recognize that the recent polar vortex could be a side effect of climate change.

    Scientists of the Geological Society of America also believe that a 13.2-foot storm surge during Hurricane Sandy was worsened by climate change. In The Huffington Post, climatologist Michael Mann said that “rising sea levels set the stage for a more damaging storm surge.”

    Even things we’d never associate with global warming — like Coca-Cola — are in danger.

    Coca-Cola’s sugar cane, sugar beets and citrus supplies are being disturbed by unpredictable water levels due to global droughts.

    But the everyman isn’t making the connection between the inconveniences of their daily life and the global scale of climate change.

    Scientists, the media and the public need to work together to spread info and to interpret new research as it comes out.

    President Barack Obama has outlined many projects to take place throughout the next few decades, including one that will help commercial, industrial and multi-family buildings cut down on waste and become more energy efficient, and another with the goal of reducing carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons through stricter efficiency standards.

    While these changes are both progressive and effective, their effects won’t be seen for several years. In the meantime, citizens should stay up to date on the most recent developments regarding global warming through informative sites like the Environmental Defense Fund, and, more importantly, commit to a more sustainable lifestyle.

    It’s the small changes now that will help to make significant changes in the future. Turning down the heat of your thermostat or nixing it completely, lowering the temperature of your water heater, always running a full load in the dishwasher — these are simple steps that even a busy college student could manage.

    As students at a top university, we are the scholars who will one day be leading the workforce and making the important decisions that will affect our government, our nation and our world. There is no need to wait for board meetings to be held and laws to be passed: We can make our own change.

    Shelby Thomas is sophomore studying family studies and human development and Spanish. Follow her at @shelbyalayne.

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