An essay by Arran High School student Louis Gray
We are living on this planet as if we have a new one to move to. Mother nature can only take so much of a beating until the biosphere of this gentle planet collapses. Right now we are at an important point in history – we choose if future generations get to live on a prosperous biodiverse earth or one that has been reduced to ruins. Throughout previous decades we have found out more about the complex workings of our climate and maybe a few decades ago you could be forgiven for not doing anything about climate change, but now we have the facts, we have the knowledge and there’s no excuse for not playing your part in saving the planet.
We can change the world, animals can’t. Animals live in the habitat that they are given and they can’t change anything about that. We humans shouldn’t be stripping away their homes from beneath their feet. Humans cause an incredible amount of flora and fauna to go extinct according to ecologists “Every day, up to 150 species are lost.” This means 150 species that delicately balance their own ecosystems or could have helped humanity to find new cures for deadly, detrimental diseases are lost. It is a glum thought that all these species are being wiped off the face of the earth never to be seen again. The Arctic is possibly the part of the earth that has been most impinged upon by climate change. It has warmed faster than anywhere else and is at its absolute highest temperature ever. In an article by Robin McKai from the Guardian he writes “In June the Russian Arctic reached 38⁰C, the highest temperature in the Arctic since record keeping began in 1885”. This just goes to show that it only takes a minuscule length of time to drastically change this planet.
Oceans have been soaking up the carbon emissions and heat we have caused for years like an inordinately large sponge but all this excess heat has devastated fragile ecosystems like coral reefs. Thanks to us, generations that come after us may never be able to observe their beautiful elegance. A United Nations report on sustainable development goals stated “Over 50 percent of the world’s coral reefs have died in the last 30 years”. If 30 years can bring this much destruction then it is terrifying to think what the future will bring. Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods and with coral reefs declining millions around the world will be facing hunger. The United Nations report also wrote “A warming of 2°C means virtually all coral reefs will be lost”. We are approaching this 2 degree increase dangerously fast. If none of this evidence has made you want to do something then I don’t know what will.
Our planet is changing. Fast. Humans have now modified this world to extremes it has never seen before. Consequently the inhabitants of this fragile world are having adverse reactions. More people are losing their livelihoods to wildfires than ever before and that’s not acceptable. People are dying and governments just seem to shrug it off like it’s none of their business to fix. Just in the past few weeks 25 people have lost their lives to wildfires in California and that number is on the rise. An even higher number of people have traumatizing stories to tell like Denise Hendrickson “Eight of us had to go down to the end of our road, go into the sand and get down in the water to avoid the fire.” If we don’t want events like these to be commonplace to all of our children and grandchildren then we need to take action now. One other not so obvious way that a warmer planet is bad for us humans
is that the range of mosquito habitats has greatly increased. Considering that close to a million people die each year already thanks to mosquitoes, you can clearly see how this is a monumental problem.
Are you actually making a difference? You may cycle to work or use reusable coffee cups but your efforts are all for nothing if these multinational conglomerates are still pumping our air full of deadly gases. Only a handful of companies are a huge part of the problem. In Matthew Talor And Jonathan Watts article on the matter they wrote “The top 20 companies have contributed to 35% of all carbon dioxide and methane since 1965”. The most depressing part of it all is that billions of people will have to live on a degraded planet so that a few gluttonous tycoons can keep on reaping record profits. Don’t feel so insignificant, even though your specific impact on the environment is negligible compared to a colossal corporation, you may be more influential than you think. If all that these sinful people are concerned about is the size of their bank accounts then what we have to do is stop the flow of money to their pockets. Don’t buy things you know have a negative impact on the environment like products with palm oil or fruit and veg that’s tracked all the way around the world. Habits can spread quickly and word of mouth is powerful. Take for example recycling-
“Recycling campaigns we know and love today didn’t start until the 1970s. Before that, most people didn’t think about recycling” wrote Bobbi Peterson. The reason so many more people recycle nowadays is predominantly because of individual people who started recycling which then lead more to follow their example and considering the average carbon footprint of a resident of the UK is over 10 tonnes a year, if everyone made just a small change to the way they live their daily lives it would make a gargantuan impact on the world.
The planet will still be here even if we’re not. If the planet continues to warm at the same rate it will soon be turned into a living hell. Billions will be dislodged from their homes, extreme drought and floods will be normal and every single person on the planet will look back and wonder why, when we had a chance to do something, we decided to do nothing. This is not a future anybody wants. We must all do our part in the fight for our environment’s survival to ensure we have a future at all.
Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions Matthew Talor And Jonathan Watts 9 Oct 2019
Can Individuals Make a Real Impact on the Environment? Bobbi Peterson 28 July 2017
US wildfires fuelled by climate change, California governor says BBC 12 September 2020
Global Extinction Rates: Why Do Estimates Vary So Wildly? Fred Peirce 17 August 2015
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources United Nations sustainable development goals
Earth has lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice in less than 30 years Robin McKai 23 August 2020
How climate change will affect these lives Complete Issues 2020