By Sarah Brill, Science and Technology Editor
I learned about climate change in depth about four years ago in a Global Change Biology class at Bard College. In that class, we learned about the implications of the human footprint on the environment and the direction in which our planet is heading if we do not make a change. We learned about the effects climate change has not only on the temperature of the planet, but also how it affects wildlife and migratory patterns. If these patterns are skewed in any way, or if wildlife is severely affected, our own life will also be affected. Since that point, I have made changes in my life to reduce my carbon footprint, such as using reusable straws, cutting out meat, and focusing on recycling and reducing my carbon footprint. I have also made it my mission to try as best as I can to educate people on the importance of combating climate change and to understand it as a scientific problem not as a political one.
One of the rebuttals I have heard in response to climate change is that climate has fluctuated over the years; what makes this different? It is a good question. Even now, the climate is constantly fluctuating. There are points of high and low temperature fluxes, but as we learned in basic math, with exponential graphs, there is a slope, and with this climate graph, the slope is increasing at an exponential rate. While there might be dips of low temperatures, the trend of the graph is uphill. In 2015, a paper was published stating that “the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20th century. The study refutes the notion that there has been a slowdown or ‘hiatus’ in the rate of global warming in recent years.” This published work takes aim at tackling the misconception that climate change has somehow plateaued for a period of time. The fact of the matter is that climate change has fluctuated over the years, but with continual and exponential growth.
Another doubt about climate change I have heard is that temperatures have been colder in certain regions, so how is that climate change? Climate change is mainly based on the irregularity of temperature and weather, not just the increase in atmospheric temperature. It can be either an unnatural minimum or maximum temperature. For example, if a region has an average high temperature of 90 degrees fahrenheit with an average low temperature of 60 degree fahrenheit one summer, then if temperatures exceed that limit in both directions, that would be considered irregular climate.
The same applies for weather conditions. Certain regions are accustomed to a certain amount of hurricanes or snowstorms in a year. If that region gets less than that normal amount or more than that normal amount, that is considered a factor of climate change. For example, anyone who was in New York City for winter last year remembers that we got one slushy snow fall and nothing else for the entire winter. This is incredibly abnormal, even for New York City as it goes against the normal weather patterns of New York’s north east position. Another example is the Michigan area, an area that we all know gets flooded with snow regardless of whether it had a year of snow which was not normal for that region. Climate change is dependent on what the region is expected to have temperature and whether wise, and what they receive instead.
In October of 2020 alone, all of the regions of the United States had either a higher than average temperature or a lower than average temperature which is indicative of climate change. Needless to say, science has backed up climate change. For some reason an issue which should have been dealt with as a scientific issue is being dealt with as a political one. There is constant debate on what laws should be passed to combat climate change — whether that be joining the Paris Agreement or moving towards wind and solar energy. There should never be a debate. Our world is on fire. Our house is on fire, and if that fire is not put out immediately, everything on this planet could cease to exist! Treat this crisis as a crisis. It is not a debate.