Climate Change is Real

by Carleigh Heckel

Stonewall Jackson Middle School, 8th grade

2030 will arrive in ten years and eight months. That’s how long we have to cut worldwide carbon emissions by over half to keep global warming at 1.5°C.  To do so will require a massive restructuring of industry and the economy. It certainly won’t be easy, but it is possible. Failing to do so and reach net zero by 2050 would most likely result in mass starvation, water shortages, more frequent and intense natural disasters, sea level rise, loss of biodiversity and extinction, and more. What’s worse is that the burdens of these effects fall disproportionately on those who are already disadvantaged: people of color, low-income people, the homeless, developing countries, indigenous people, et cetera.

In addition to the myriad of ethical issues, failure to act on climate change is also an economic burden. It is more expensive not to act on climate change than to take action now. The economic costs associated with giving aid to those affected by natural disasters are tremendous, and it will only get worse. Furthermore, we can’t escape from this. The effects of climate change will continue on for centuries and possibly even millennia. Our society’s actions over the course of the next eleven years will affect billions or even trillions of lives, all of whom will have to pay for our inaction.

In addition, it’s simply wrong not to act. Climate change is now. We are already feeling its effects on rising sea levels, glacier melt, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and even things as common as thunderstorms and tornados. In 2018 alone, over ten thousand people died as a result of natural disasters. Some of those deaths could have been prevented if we had taken action earlier. The crisis will only grow exponentially worse. We have a responsibility to the people of the world today and to the people of the future to pass on a livable world. I don’t want to be remembered as the people who condemned the future to an unlivable climate.

In short, everyone alive today has an obligation to push the government and our elected officials to take radical, necessary climate action. The fate of our planet has fallen into our hands. It would be foolish to throw that responsibility to the wind and choose to condemn ourselves, our fellow humans, and future humans.