It’s something you hear people comment on when it’s too hot or cold outside. “Global warming, eh?” And then someone will bring up ice caps melting or polar bears dying to “get real.” Though acknowledging global warming may make us feel like we are doing our parts, the consequences of it require much more than simple talk.
In the last few decades our carbon footprint on the earth has reached a catastrophic tipping point. New reports and articles have given deadlines, that, if not met with carbon reduction initiatives, will indeed usher in devastating climate change.
Currently, the earth has warmed 1.8°F since pre-industrial levels. The Paris Climate Agreement is trying to keep global temperatures from rising 3.6°F, with anything above that being considered catastrophic.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by 2030 we would have to cut greenhouse gas emissions 45% below the 2010 standard of CO2 emissions, and would need to ultimately reach an average of zero carbon emissions by 2050. This means major developments and implementation would need to be made on global standards of transportation, industry, land cultivation, and energy.
Phys.org presents an even more daunting deadline. It states that the earth needs to have its carbon dioxide reduction initiatives in place by 2020 in order to have a more realistic reduction of emission year by year.
Though these deadlines proposed by the IPCC and Phys.org have a 10 year difference, they both paint a terrifying reality of what will happen globally if they are not met. These effects include lethal weather patterns and massive migrations due to rising sea levels that have the potential to engulf coastlines and saturate inner continents, creating an unprecedented refugee crisis, mass famines, and disease.
What then, can we do to play an active role in reversing climate change?
Enact government regulations and changes —
Call or email your representative to tell him or her how important climate change is to you. If proper action isn’t taken don’t be afraid to let them know you’ll vote for someone who will. It’s time to turn up the heat before it turns up on us!
Reduce waste —
The amount the average American wastes is horrific, and often small changes we make can both reduce waste and save money in the long term. Try limiting your plastic use, stop buying cheap or low quality products that break, and recycle.
Shop eco —
Always purchase brands that have the most environmentally-friendly production and packaging. The fast fashion industry pumps out hundreds of millions of dollars of clothes each season with a vast majority of them ending up in landfills. Look for locally made, organically-sourced, and/or vintage products. They may be more expensive, but they’ll last.
Go electric —
Electric cars are becoming much more attainable for the general public. With electric cars having longer mileage ranges and more affordable costs, it’s a luxury we should seriously consider. Not only does the consumer save money on gas, maintenance costs on an electric car are also considerably less. In a recent study, Forbes compared the cost of electric versus gas cars and found that, despite the often higher upfront cost, a person can save thousands by buying an electric vehicle.
Stop consuming meat —
Lowering our meat consumption is surprisingly the single greatest effect a person can have to reduce their carbon footprint. Our World, produced by the United Nations University, proposes that the meat industry alone is more devastating in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than cars, planes, and shipping put together. Begin by reducing your intake, before — literally — quitting cold turkey. If you eat meat with every meal, try having two meals a week be vegetarian. If beef is your meat of choice, switch to chicken (which is both healthier and better for the environment).
Try implementing these ideas and the next time a surface-level global warming discussion comes up, bring to the table some recipes for real change.
Kena DeLong is a Presidential Scholar at San Francisco State studying Journalism and Political Science.
Premananda Drew is a Political Science major studying in Santa Cruz, California.