Global warming warrants change

2014: The hottest year in history- What now?


Billy Wilson

On Tuesday, Jan. 27, the entire Northeast coast was told to expect up to three feet of powdery, white snow. Parents of young children fantasized about telling their grandkids of “The Blizzard of 2015.” With extreme winter weather constantly hitting locations around the world, it is difficult to believe that global warming is a real problem.

Despite the weather, the fact is that human-caused climate change is an imminent, unavoidable issue that will jeopardize our future. We like to say that cowardice is not the American way, yet every day we fail to make the changes that will help us live sustainably. If this isn’t cowardice, I don’t know what is.

Cowardice is the endless stream of excuses. We say, “we can’t” because of money, political radicals, religion or even because of other countries. The truth is that we won’t make the change because of human habit; we don’t want to because it is going to be one of the hardest things that we have ever done. Well America, it is time to be brave.

Gayathri Vaidyanathan of Scientific American magazine said that 2014 was the 38th consecutive year in which the annual global temperature was higher than average. Furthermore, 2014 overall was the hottest year recorded since the inception of climate records in 1880, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

If trends continue, in 2016, as we watch the inauguration of the next president of the United States, our thoughts may also be darkened with the 40th anniversary of a heating planet.

With this data being broadcasted to the public, it makes sense that almost 7 in 10 Americans believe global warming is happening, according to a survey by Yale and George Mason universities. However, 18% of Americans still believe that global warming is caused by natural patterns, not human activity.

But what is causing this discrepancy?

Poet Margaret Sangster famously quoted, “In the whole round of human affairs, little is so fatal to peace as misunderstanding.”  Perhaps disagreements about the causes of global warming stem from the meaning of the term itself. Although many people use the terms “global warming” and “climate change” interchangeably, in reality, they mean two completely different things.

While climate change refers to the frequent shifts in the conditions of individual locations on Earth, global warming is the alarming pattern of rising average temperatures across the whole planet. As a young child, my mother used to ground me by asking if things were “big deals” or “little deals”.

This is a big deal.

The evidence is clear. Glaciers are melting, seas are rising and we are even beginning to lose our polar ice cap. Planet Earth is warming as we speak, and it isn’t a coincidence.

Since the 19th century, humans have been pumping black industrial gases into the environment. Almost everything that we use in our daily lives at some passed through a manufacturing plant spewing greenhouse gases. The cars that we drive to school turn gasoline into tons of carbon dioxide collectively per year.

According to NASA, in 1950, carbon dioxide levels rose higher than they had been in 650,000 years, and they have been rising ever since. In 2014, levels were 100 parts per million higher than 60 years before.

It is time for us to take responsibility for what is happening to our planet. We, as the youngest inhabitants of Earth, will live through a time of great turmoil in the environment, and we are out of time to be ignorant. It is essential that we recognize our responsibility to reduce our emissions and find a more efficient way to live, or risk the survival of our descendants.

It is 2015 and the future is in our hands. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state said, “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Parkway School District.