Spring is coming.
Over the past week, many of us have been outside enjoying the fresh spring weather – in February. Despite how good it might feel, there is something inherently wrong when winter feels like spring.
This is climate change.
Human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and excessive carbon dioxide emissions, caused and continue to contribute to climate change.
The U.S. has been fighting climate change for years. However, since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, this battle has been slowing down. Trump has vowed to eliminate climate change policies put in place by the Obama administration, and even deleted almost all mention of climate change on the White House website. According to Trump, climate change is a hoax.
Then why is the high 72° in the middle of February?
More likely, it is simply inconvenient. Fossil fuels are cheap, create jobs, boost competition, and help developing countries. Ignoring the problem of climate change is far easier for Trump and America.
However, we will not be able to ignore it forever. Besides its many environmental consequences, climate change has also created another major issue: climate refugees. In the past six years, about 140 million people have been forced to move due to climate-related catastrophes, and this number will only increase. These disasters often affect the poor and vulnerable, increasing already existent global inequalities. Even worse, the people forced to leave their homes due to climate change are not protected under current international refugee and asylum law.
Not only do they lose their homes and heritage, but then they are forced to fend for themselves. Often, it is other poor countries that offer them safe haven, while rich countries build walls and racist political debates. Sound familiar, America?
We cannot ignore this issue. It is not a joke. It is not a hoax. Air pollution in China contributes to the deaths of 1.6 million people per year. The aftermath of extreme storms and floods cost millions in India. However, this is not another issue that we can push to the back of our minds because it is just something happening somewhere else to someone else. We cannot turn off the television and pretend this does not exist. Our constitution, our rights, our privileges cannot protect us from this. We can see it in our own backyards, as spring arrives in February. This is not normal. It is scary, and it is only the beginning.
Climate change is affecting our planet, and will continue to do so unless we start fixing these issues now. We need to change over to clean energy, such as solar power, wind turbines, and electric cars. These energy sources are dropping in price, making them far easier to access. Although fossil fuels might be more convenient in the short-term, in the long-term they are damaging not only our country, but our entire world.
In the meantime, we need to change international refugee laws to encompass climate refugees. It is countries like us that created the issue in the first place; we need to deal with the consequences and contribute to the solution.
America is one of the most influential countries in the world, and we are the second-biggest polluter. We are a big part of the problem, but we have the ability to do something about it. We can set a model for the rest of the world to follow. We need to start a global war against climate change. Now.
Spring is coming. What are you going to do to stop it?
Small steps can make a big difference. Here are some steps you can take to help reduce climate change:
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Jeffrey, S., & Rehman, A. (2017, January 09). Desperate exodus of the climate refugees. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/09/desperate-exodus-of-the-climate-refugees
Van Houten, C. (2016, May 25). The First Official Climate Refugees in the U.S. Race Against Time. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/05/160525-isle-de-jean-charles-louisiana-sinking-climate-change-refugees/
What You Can Do about Climate Change. (2016, September 29). Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/climatechange/what-you-can-do-about-climate-change