Climate Change: Running Low On Time - And Response

Monday, May 20, 2019

As it stands climate change is one of the greatest threats to our planet, and every species living in it. I recently realized how relevant and catastrophic climate change is. I previously understood that climate change was bad, and I felt we had to do something, but I didn’t realize the monumental repercussions that it would produce. Furthermore, I was completely stunned when the International Panel on Climate Change stated we only have 12 years to correct our mistakes before the damage becomes permanent. In fact, even here in Chattanooga, we have experienced the effects. While many people may have realized these differences, they might have not directly linked it with the cause - climate change. 

The number of colder months has increased. The summers have become hot enough to where I sweat just be standing outside. And on a much larger scale, events such as these have occurred all over the world. For example, Fox News stated California was bracing for up to two feet of snow from a blizzard…. in May. May is spring, almost the end of spring, and California’s expecting a blizzard? No, California isn’t broken, but one thing that is breaking is our climate. 

On a global level, climate change is ruthlessly beating up the world. Some people don’t believe in climate change or underestimate its severity. But let me quickly present a couple of facts from only 2018 which might display the urgency I’m talking about. 

In 2018, hurricanes have consistently battered the Atlantic seemingly one after the other, without any breathing room. There were eight hurricanes, two of which were major hurricanes. What’s even more surprising is the two major hurricanes, Michael and Florence, both arrived consecutively. Hurricane Florence lasted from Aug. 31, 2018 - Sept. 18, 2018. Next came Michael which lasted from Oct. 7-16, 2018. There’s a gap of barely even a month between the two major categories 4 and 5 hurricanes. 

According to a study by Axios, climate change may change Tornado Alley geographically, moving it more towards the east towards states like Alabama, Virginia, and Tennessee. And personally speaking, I’d rather not worry about tornadoes.

Global temperatures, including the sea, have been rising. Which means the ecology will change significantly. Most species won’t be able to adapt to the sudden changes, and most likely, many will go extinct. And I feel it’s important to state that humans are part of the food chain, as well as the ecology. Our survival is completely dependent on those animals; we’re not self-sufficient. 

The last point, I’d like to highlight is the carbon emission. Scientists are sounding the alarm that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has hit a level only seen 3 million years ago, and is likely to go higher. To give a picture, 3 million years ago average sea levels were 50 feet higher than they are today, and forests extended as far as the Arctic (yes the place with only ice). I’m not predicting the future with the past, what I’m trying to say is we are headed in that general direction.

In 1969, Chattanooga was declared the most polluted city in the United States (proving it’s not always good to be number one). The Tennessee River was filthy and filled with gunk. Essentially a bio-hazard. And the air was so smoggy you could barely see Lookout Mountain from the valley. It took about half a century of hard work and continuous care for Chattanooga’s environment to achieve the ecological sanctity we have today; even though the river is still a bit filthy.

How does this relate to climate change? Pollution and climate change are both side-effects of human carelessness. And it took nearly 50 years to clean up a small city. We can’t wait for the dire effects of climate change to fully develop globally, like pollution in Chattanooga. If we did, the Earth would change so rapidly, that the Earth itself wouldn’t be able to keep up. Many things would become different beyond recognition. At that point, it would be too late to change, and no matter how hard we tried, it would be beyond impossible to restore the Earth to its former self. 

If we continue on this path of recklessness, my image of the future Earth is similar to a scene from the movie Oblivion. Not a pretty sight. Not one that I want to see or want others to see.

Now, I’m not one of those fanatics saying climate change is the end of the human race or that it is our very own doomsday. Although some might disagree reading my previous paragraphs. But I’m not going to define climate change as a mediocre threat, because it isn’t. I am trying to stress the issue because it has come to the point to where it is deadly serious. 

Issues usually take a long time to get resolved. Racism technically started in 1619 with slavery. That issue took 400 years to get to where it is now, but it still isn’t fully resolved. The feminist movement took almost 70 years to accomplish their goal for woman’s rights, and that issue, as seen today, is still not completely resolved. 

Look at these numbers. Every issue I’ve mentioned took at least 50 years or more to get partially resolved, but not fully. We have basically 12 years, one fourth the time, to change before we can’t do anything about it. If it takes a minimum of at least 50 years for us to usually change, and we only have one fourth the time, then we are definitely procrastinating. I’d even go as far as to say we’re beyond that point. But regardless, we can’t just talk about changing. We need to be changing. Now is the time for action and implementation, not for resolutions, or discussions. Simply talking about climate change won’t fix anything. 

We need changes implemented now, we need more people to get involved. While more people recognize climate change as an issue, there is definitely not enough acting on those fears. Reading this article is the first step. My goal in writing this article is that people will understand that everyone needs to work together and act together if they want to battle this change. Now isn’t the time to think, but to act. Everyone must wake up and organize quickly so that they can act on a united front. And they need to act and be involved in whatever way they can, whether it be protesting outside government buildings or finding technological solutions to combat climate change.

If I can at least get a couple of people to realize the deadly impact climate change will have, I will feel accomplished. But if I can get people to act on those fears, those worries, then I would feel that writing this was one of the biggest successes in my life. 

Sonny Ravinder 

* * * 

Mr. Ravinder,

I understand that you just realized the world would end in 12 years. As a 50 year old man that grew up listening every Sunday that the time is nigh and rapture will surely be tomorrow I can relate. Trust me, just as my well meaning preacher trying to guilt me into living a chaste life didn’t work your prophecies of doom won’t either.

If you had bothered to do some research you would look at how many pounds of coal and iron that have to be mined to make one windmill.  How many poor people have to mine the lithium to build all those batteries.

It is a shame it isn’t a simple problem like bringing jobs back to the U.S. Much to your idol's chagrin, President Trump didn’t need a magic wand, just a little bit of common sense and an appreciation of the great experiment which is America. 

Mark Maynor

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