Environmentalists are often written off as tree-hugging granola eaters who want to save the whales. However, many climate change scientists believe that environmentalists are out to save humankind. According to a recent report by The Guardian, the planet has reached its highest temperature, which it has not seen in 115,000 years. The effects of climate change are happening, and they will affect every person on earth, especially today’s youth. This scientific report was made by a former NASA climate scientist, James Hansen. Hansen is very concerned about the heavy burden this will have on today’s youth. “Even with optimistic assumptions (future emissions reduction) will cost hundreds of trillions of dollars,” he explains. “It’s potentially putting young people in charge of a situation that is beyond their control. It’s not clear they will be able to take such actions.”
What many people do not realize is that, at this point, these costs will be survival costs. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) website has a warning list of how climate change will affect society. The EDF warns that climate change will have a devastating effect on ecosystems, making farming extremely difficult. We have all seen that catchy bumper sticker put out by the American Farmland Trust: “No farms, no food.” Not so kitschy when we consider climate change.
The most disturbing thing about the climate change debate is that although many people do understand what climate change will do to the planet, they do not see a reason to take action because it is not directly affecting them. According to a poll conducted by The Hill, 70% of the United States population believes in climate change. Many middle to upper class people live in air conditioned homes, drink from Brita filters and occasionally recycle. Many Americans live in ignorant bliss about climate change and 30% of the population denies it. Soon, humans are going to have to start paying for their own survival.
Understanding the realities of climate change can be intimidating for many people, but it is crucial in order to save the planet. With every small action, each individual can make a difference in our planet’s future. Maybe the next time Sage Dining uses plastic forks and paper plates, we Notre Dame students should actively seek recycling bins and compost for disposal. Notre Dame uses single stream recycling, so that means that any sort of paper or plastic can all go into one bin. President Marylou Yam comments, “Now is the time to be more ‘green’ conscious. Recycling saves.”
At this point, the “hassle” of finding the nearest recycling bin can save us from the hassle of having to pay for lung disease treatment in the future. It is time to get the picture: our future is melting as quickly as the ice caps.
Check out EDF.org to find out more details about recycling tips and ways you can fight against deforestation.