Climate change is an issue that the entire world is facing and will continue to face. We all need to take responsibility and fight for our planet and all its inhabitants. With that established, it is important to recognize environmental racism and consider the communities that are more likely to be disproportionately affected by climate change.
Many people use the terms climate change and global warming interchangeably, but global warming only constitutes a small part of climate change. While climate change describes the broad range of changes Earth is currently experiencing, global warming refers to the increasing average temperatures of Earth. Evidence for climate change includes the global temperature rise (about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century), warming oceans (the top 700 meters showing warming of more than 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969), sea level rise (about 8 inches in last century, extreme events (increased amount of droughts, intense rainfall events, hurricanes, etc.), ocean acidification, declining sea ice, glacial retreat, and more.
The natural greenhouse effect has been impacted by human activities. The processes of coal and oil-burning mechanisms combine oxygen and carbon in the air to make CO2. Human activities such as clearing land for agriculture and industry also increases greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide contribute to global warming and climate change by trapping heat in the atmosphere, which warms our Earth. Carbon dioxide is released through specific human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. On the contrary, methane is released through landfills, agriculture, and ruminant digestion and manure management associated with livestock.
Nitrous oxide is released by fertilizers, biomass burning, and nitric acid production.
Clearly, there are a lot of steps we have to take to stop the effects of climate change in relation to the release of these greenhouse gases. Some solutions include using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, using transportation that doesn’t involve human energy to decrease emissions, buying less to prevent the buildup of landfills, eating less meat to decrease methane emissions, and decreasing deforestation to prevent habitat destruction, fires, droughts, and greenhouse gas emissions.
If we don’t work on these solutions and inspire political and global action, we will continue to face the consequences of wildfires, insect and disease outbreaks, heavy heat, droughts, stronger hurricanes, and more. This will impact our safety, health, economy, and infrastructure.
Intersectional environmentalism is the study and activism of how climate change does not impact everyone equally. It is harder for black, brown, and low-income families to have access to clean air, water, and natural spaces. Minority and low-income families are proven to be more vulnerable to toxic waste, landfills, and other hazards. We all must fight for our Earth, and fight for all its inhabitants too.
“Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.” NASA, NASA, climate.nasa.gov/.
Biello, David. “10 Solutions for Climate Change.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 26 Nov. 2007, www.scientificamerican.com/article/10-solutions-for-climate-change/.
Thomas, Leah. “Intersectional Environmentalism: Why Environmental Justice Is Essential For A Sustainable Future.” The Good Trade, The Good Trade, 3 June 2020, www.thegoodtrade.com/features/environmental-justice.