By: Jessica Reker ~Guest Writer~
Climate change and global warming are terms we hear thrown around, but what do they mean? Global warming refers specifically to the rising temperature of the world. Climate change refers to the overall change of the climate of specific regions as well as the globe as a whole.
When talking about climate change, scientists are not only referring to the increasing temperatures of the Earth but also to the change in rainfall patterns, increase in natural disasters like floods and hurricanes, droughts and, yes, even colder temperatures. Anything that is outside the normal climatic range for a specific region is part of climate change.
For decades, climate scientists have been trying to warn people about climate change and the effects it will have on the human race. At present time, scientists are saying that without drastic changes, the Earth will become too warm and chaos will ensue. While scientists are not trying to scare the population into thinking the end of days is coming, they are trying to be realistic in saying that our current way of living is not sustainable.
The biggest contributor to climate change is carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is considered a greenhouse gas, a type of gas that forms a layer in the atmosphere that traps heat bouncing off the Earth.
Normally, most of this rebounding heat would be released back into space. Carbon dioxide can last in the atmosphere for up to 200 years. The hotter our planet becomes, the more effects it has on the human population. Eventually, water and food will become scarce commodities, and war will break out over them. Scientists say that 2 degrees Celsius is the maximum amount the total global temperature can rise.
Currently, we are at a 1.7 degrees Celsius temperature rise since 1880, according to NASA. Curbing carbon dioxide emission is the biggest focus of climate scientists currently. Without curbing emissions, and stopping the warming of our planet, other environmental causes are no good. In order to have a planet that has enough fresh water and the capability to produce enough food for all 7 billion of us, we have to act now.
If climate change is this big of an issue, a life and death matter, why have we barely heard about it on the campaign trail? If we look at the candidates’ platforms, we can find out what they plan to do about this pressing issue.
Donald Trump has come out to say that climate change is a hoax. He believes it is just a way for environmentalist to shut down the fossil fuel industry and destroy the economy and cost jobs. He plans to make the United States energy independent by opening up more areas to onshore and offshore drilling for oil, using more clean coal and increasing hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has stated that climate change is an issue we need to deal with. She has a plan to create a clean energy infrastructure, cut methane emissions and make climate and environmental justice issues a priority.
Jill Stein plans to create clean energy, completely stop fossil fuel usage and protect the rights of future generations.
Gary Johnson plans to protect the rights of future generations and protect clean air and water through stricter regulations. He does not believe the government should interfere with industry but that the free market should be the driver of what type of energy is used. But the government needs to play a bigger part in making sure that all industry is following regulations and not causing harm to the environment.
While many meetings have gone on among world leaders for decades, little to nothing has been done about climate change as a whole. The world looks to the United States as the leader. Since the United States is the second highest producer of carbon dioxide, right behind China, other countries think that if the United States isn’t doing anything they shouldn’t either.
The next leader of our country needs to be someone who is going to lead the world to act on climate change. Not only do we depend on this now, but the future generations of the world are depending upon us, too. The time for action is now, and any inaction will unfortunately lead to our demise.
While climate change is only one issue that needs taken into consideration when electing the next president, it should be one of the main decision factors. I hope that you will take climate change and the future of our world into consideration when you vote on Nov. 8.