The Earth will be my generation’s home for the next 70 or so years, so I have questions for the older generation: What have you done with our planet? Parents, why have you devastated the only home your children have? Politicians, why isn’t this issue solved already?
Climate change is having a profound impact on virtually every aspect of our lives. We clearly see these effects in Stanislaus County, where we depend on water from snow in nearby mountains for Central Valley farming and part of Modesto’s drinking water supply. Increasing temperatures cause this snow to melt more rapidly, and experts say we will see more profound spring rain and severe summer droughts.
Other places have been hit even harder, like the Great Barrier Reef. This was once a magnificent and breathtaking sight: bright, cherry-red and honey-orange hues burst through crystal blue water, as fish and coral thrived in peace. Unfortunately, this beautiful scene was one of many of Earth’s wonders that climate change has transformed into mere memories.
In recent years, climate change has increasingly threatened Earth, and our future. Since 1900, Earth’s temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit and is expected to rise another 2-to-6 degrees within 100 years. Although many may see a few degrees as hardly anything to be worried about, this change is destroying our environment. Icecaps are melting, affecting marine life and sea-levels, droughts and extreme weather are becoming more common, and heat waves threaten humans and animals alike. The United Nations estimates that 1 million animal species are at risk of extinction because of human activities. And these effects are virtually irreversible.
Instead of simply dreading our future, we must actively work together to prevent disaster. Coming from the younger generation, I see that the effects of climate change soon will be our burden. The situation has become so dire that many young people are now advocating for change throughout the globe. We recognize the threat global warming poses and understand that climate change requires just that: change.
“We are appeasing the aggressor,” said Shelby Benz, a senior at Modesto High School. “We are idly sitting by as the future of our planet is held vulnerable in the hands of the greedy. Yet there is still hope with so many people mobilizing for policies to reflect our determination to save the planet, and to preserve our world for future generations.”
Shelby continued, “One frustrating part of this fight is that environmental regulations in the United States are being cut. I also recognize that our mission for more environmentally friendly sources of energy needs to be realistic, like by reducing our emissions through systems that are sustainable.”
Legislative and social reform will help. According to the World Resources Institute, the largest contributor to climate change is the burning of fossil fuels for heat and electricity. We should be passing bills that limit these carbon-emitting processes and offer incentives for zero-carbon alternatives, such as nuclear energy.
The United States’ strides in reducing climate change should be acknowledged. We have successfully passed bills to limit our carbon footprint. However, with the Trump administration, much of our progress has been reversed. Also, in order to effectively combat climate change, all countries must put forth an effort for change.
Maitri Halappa, a freshman at Enochs High School said, “I think that we need to collectively recognize that climate change is the biggest global crisis that we have ever encountered. This means that if we want to combat it, everyone must step up, especially politicians.”
Global warming will consume our planet if we don’t step up and take action. The fate of our future relies on the effort that we make now. As Maitri said, “This doesn’t just affect our generation, but rather all generations yet to come.”
Rana Banankhah is a freshman at Modesto High School. She wrote this commentary for The Modesto Bee.