Debates about climate change rise to new heights


A factory releases dangerous gases into the air. The topic of humans’ impact on the environment has been widely debated by people around the globe. Photo courtesy of Journalist’s Resource.

The topic of climate change seems to be at the forefront of debate. With 16 year-old Greta Thunberg speaking at the UN Climate Change Summit, climate strikes attracting thousands of people worldwide and American political candidates promising drastic actions in their campaigns, the once minor-appearing issue has become an international crisis.

Yes, climate change is real. That is something all respectable scientists can agree on. The real question is whether or not people are causing it. And if we are, how can we stop it?

On one hand, substantial movements in temperature have happened in the past, far before the human factor was even a consideration. There have been ice ages, as well as global warmings with temperatures greatly higher than the ones we have now. This makes finding evidence to blame humans more difficult, since they weren’t at fault for any warming in the past.

The difference is, however, in the drastic changes of temperature, as the degrees are increasing at a much faster rate than ever before, and that then is sparking conversation about whether or not the higher rate of change is being caused by human activity.

Humans burn fossil fuels, misuse land and lead mass deforestations, all of which contribute carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. We add methane with our agriculture and landfills, nitrous oxide with soil cultivation and chlorofluorocarbons through refrigerants and spray can propellants. But couldn’t the rise in temperature also be attributed to energy output from the Sun?

There is one thing, however, that can absolutely be attributed to human activity- pollution, the effects of which are clearly evident worldwide through the demise of wildlife and the use of air pollution masks in China. We are the ones throwing plastic in the oceans, administering vehicle emissions and contaminating the soil. We are also the ones that can find eco-friendly alternatives to plastic, drive fuel efficient vehicles and use organic herbicides instead of toxic pesticides. Moreover, in the process of preventing specifically air pollution, we will also be decreasing our additions of the same greenhouse gasses that warm the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

In short, climate change is too profound a subject to be solved in one presidential election, climate summit or high school newspaper article. However, it is a topic that should be discussed widely and with science, rather than personal opinion.