My Turn: Time to nix the bad habits

For the Monitor
Published: 11/21/2021 8:00:27 AM
Modified: 11/21/2021 8:00:13 AM

Have you wondered why it hasn’t snowed yet this year? Or why it snowed in Texas in 2020? Or why have we experienced so many wildfires and droughts? This is all due to climate change.

Climate change is no longer something scientists are predicting. It is no longer something that our country is hoping just goes away. It is here now and we are already experiencing the effects of global warming.

To demonstrate this, there is currently a massive clock in New York City, counting down the days, stating that we have six years left until our climate effects are irreversible. Six years left until the earth crumbles below our feet. Six years. We are running out of time to save our planet. To fight this pressing issue, first we need to educate ourselves, then hold ourselves and those in positions of power accountable.

The first and most important step to tackling climate change is educating those around us who do not know what climate change is. Despite the fact that global warming has been occurring for years, it is still clear that some don’t know what it is.

The United Nations defines global warming as a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth's atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and other pollutants. This may seem like a lengthy definition but this basically means that the earth is turning into a giant sauna.

The United Nations states that the earth's average temperature is about 1.76 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th-century average. While this may not seem like a big change, it means the oceans will rise by about 1 foot by 2050. It means that 300 million peoples’ homes will become unlivable. It means that coral reefs are no longer able to adapt in order to survive (all coral reefs will be dead by 2100). These damaging effects are going to be here in the next 20 years if we don’t make changes today.

As individuals, it is now our turn to take responsibility in an effort to stop global warming. Over the last five weeks, I have made a conscious effort to reduce the plastic waste in my life.  However, everything from cups to straws to cutlery to food packaging to beauty products is coated in plastic. Not only does this end up in landfills and the ocean but it also releases toxic chemicals when it is made.

Fortunately, there are ways to live a more sustainable life. Some include using reusable water bottles, bags, straws, cutlery and napkins. While I understand that making these changes can be hard, it is important to do them gradually and realistically for your lifestyle.

Other ways to reduce your carbon footprint include carpooling or taking the bus, walking as much as possible, switching to renewable energy, composting and eating local and seasonal foods. These changes may feel small or insignificant when discussing an entire world of people but they can make a massive difference. If someone can make a change, even if it is a micro-change, it could send shock waves to generations of others. Individual action can spark a social and political movement, which is important if we want to start seeing change. 

Political and corporate action will make the greatest difference in fighting global warming. Unfortunately, in the political environment we live in today, taking action on issues like global warming is seen as a political statement. At this point, it is critical that we have all political parties and companies willing to make a change to save the planet we all live on.

With that being said, as of today, studies say only 23% of U.S. companies are making an effort to be carbon neutral by 2030. That is not nearly enough to avoid our carbon threshold. Without the influence of individual change and action, companies will not feel pressure and therefore will not attempt to change their bad habits.

In addition, there have been frequent protests in the Concord area in attempts to shut down the Bow power plant, stop the Liberty Utilities Pipeline and demand state action on climate laws. As Sununu cuts funding for the Renewable Portfolio Standard and demands for more nuclear and gas energy, it is important that as citizens we continue to fight for what is necessary in order to survive. 

I hope you can see why it is critical to change our bad habits now. If we don’t make individual and political changes now, the world we live in is going to die. As individuals, it is our responsibility to spark change today.

In the words of eighteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, “You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up is never an option.”

(Abigail Denise is a senior at Bow High School. Her senior project focuses on individual impact on climate change.)

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