Our planet is dying

Alex Edgar, Editor in Chief

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” said climate change activist Greta Thunberg in front of the UN General Assembly as she spoke about Climate Change, and the world listened. We are currently facing an extinction-level crisis and our world leaders are not acting fast enough to fight it. Over the last century, the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The increased atmospheric carbon dioxide causes many long term consequences that have led many scientists to debate whether any of our actions will be reversible. These long term consequences include global warming in some areas and global cooling in others, increased droughts and more frequent storms, melting of our polar ice caps, the rising of the sea level, and changes in the makeup of natural plant communities. Although temperatures on earth have been fluctuating for millennia, scientists agree that there is a more than 95% chance that human activities in the past 50 years have caused the climate crisis we are facing currently. Global temperatures as a whole are expected to continue to rise for decades to come and a research report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from all over the world, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.Effects are already visible in Southern California where the increased heat, drought and insect outbreaks, which have all been linked to climate change, have increased wildfires. Every year the effect of wildfires become more and more prevalent in Southern California. In 2017 the Thomas Fire alone burned over 280,000 acres and in 2018 the Woolsey Fire burned down over 1,500 structures, killed three people, and prompted the evacuation of more than 295,000 people across the LA and Ventura Counties. Recently, multiple wildfires started on October 9th and led to school being canceled throughout all of Simi Valley and surrounding areas on October 10th. Since it is only the beginning of October we still don’t know how many more wildfires will happen as the dry season gets longer and longer each year. In addition to wildfires, global climate change has led to declining water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, health impacts in cities due to heat, and flooding and erosion in coastal areas in Southern California. Not only do more than 70 percent of California’s residents live and work in coastal counties, but almost 86 percent of the state’s total gross domestic product is generated in those same coastal counties that are threatened by the rising sea levels caused by climate change. Such California staples as the Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica Pier, and an estimated two-thirds of the over 800 miles of beaches are likely to be wiped off the map by 2100 if we don’t change our actions on a global scale.
Greta Thunberg is at the forefront of the fight against climate change. When she stood outside of the Swedish parliament daily starting in August of 2018, an international movement was never her goal. But, as more and more students worldwide have tuned in to her message, Fridays for Future was created. Fridays for Future is a global school strike for the climate that since its creation has thrown Greta from obscurity to the most recognizable figure in the fight against climate change. She has gone on to speak at the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference and more recently, the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City where her speech went viral. Students from all over the world have been inspired by Greta’s messages and have participated in the weekly school strikes and have become activists in their communities.
Although getting more people involved in the fight against climate change is important, what the world needs now is governmental change. The next 16 months are some of the most crucial to the fate of our planet and will decide whether nature will ever return to the way it was before. If our world leaders don’t create legislation and regulations that cut down on our greenhouse gas emissions soon, nothing else future generations do will be able to fix the problems at hand.