Dhruv Girish – Year 8 Student
Recently, a 16 year old teenager named Greta Thunberg, from Sweden, sailed across the Atlantic on a zero carbon ship to America. Sir David Attenborough produced a very persuading series on how to save our planet. Stacey Dooley, a journalist and documentary producer, highlighted the shocking effects of fashion on our environment. Cowspiracy is an informative documentary that reveals the link between beef-farming and greenhouse gas emissions. What are these people trying to achieve? These people are trying to raise awareness about the existential threat to our planet due to climate change.
Inspired by these people, I am determined to do my bit for this cause by raising awareness within our school. In this article, I will shine a light on the challenges that humanity faces and try to persuade you to save our planet and ourselves. The big threat of climate change has shaken our earth, not just environmentally but socially, politically and economically. Billions of people have been forced into misery due to the effects of climate change.
A primary cause of global warming is greenhouse gas emissions – including water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane – which thicken the layer of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gas layer traps in heat and leads to warming of the Earth’s surface. This will cause global rises in temperature and rising sea-levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report states that the evidence for climate change is loud and clear. In the last 100 years sea levels have risen by 22cm and global temperatures have risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius; but, by the end of this century, these increases will likely be much more than double if humans emit greenhouse gases at the current rate. A third of the Sun’s rays pass through the atmosphere and strike the Earth’s surface heating it, whilst some of the rays are reflected back into the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases retain the infrared rays close to the Earth’s surface, causing the Earth’s surface to heat up even more.
The three main fossil fuels are coal, oil and natural gas. These three are also known by different names, such as petroleum for oil, and each type of fossil fuel exists in a different state. Burning fossil fuels produces greenhouse gas emissions, for example carbon dioxide, which enhance the greenhouse effect.
Fossil fuels aren’t the only environmental problem that we face. There is plastic which destroys our wildlife and intoxicates fresh water. Plastic in landfill sites stays there for a very long time, poisoning our water, soil and food. Currently, even the plastic that we try to recycle ends up in a landfill across the other side of the world, intoxicating the water and polluting the soil in third world countries. This is outrageous, we all know what is at stake if we don’t reduce and recycle plastic; but yet we just keep going. However, the worst is yet to come. Another problem in terms of global warming is methane released by cows, largely because of the great demand for beef. Did you know that methane produced by intensively farmed cows is 10 times more than all the vehicles that release fossil fuels?
So, we have a lot to do before 2040, which is when experts say the effects of climate change may become irreversible. The UK is already leading the way in decreasing our carbon footprint. They have signed up to electrify all cars on the road by 2040. The government has facilitated this by eliminating road tax for electric cars and introducing strict regulatory checks on emissions for non-electric cars. All buses in London are electric and this goes a long way towards reducing local air pollution. The majority of the governments around the world have understood the threats of climate change and are starting to join forces. These governments can’t ensure that our planet is healthy on their own, and this is where ordinary people like us come into play. We must work as a community to help save our home. At an individual level, we can buy local goods, avoid buying single use plastic bags, recycle things meticulously and, if possible, try to walk, cycle or even take public transport.
We are already experiencing the devastation of global warming. For example, over 72,000 forest fires occurred in the Amazon in 2019, representing an 80% rise since last year. There are numerous cyclones and flood events every year around the globe, wreaking havoc on communities and their economies. We must do something drastic if we want to save our Earth from collapse. All the governments around the world, and each and every individual on this planet, has to think carefully about how we are going to prevent a potential catastrophe. There is a major crisis on our hands: what are YOU going to do about it?
‘Climate Change : A Very Short Introduction‘ by Mark Maslin
‘The Week Junior‘, 31st August 2019, Issue 194