There is Actually An InterNational Emergency...It’s Called Climate Change

Climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. Climate scientists have adjusted the "point of no return date" from 2100 to 2050. The U.N. has announced that they know for sure that arctic temperatures will have risen at least three to five degrees Celsius (37-41 degrees Fahrenheit) by then, with devastating effects globally..

Illustration by Pyper Witt

Illustration by Pyper Witt

Despite it’s imminent importance, climate change seems to be a topic that drifts breezily through media headlines, only brought to the public’s attention when another big disaster happens. The disasters are not going to stop. In fact, they are only going to occur more often. Climate change is permanent news, it is the emergency of the century, and it is an international one.

Droughts. Wildfires. Earthquakes. California disasters alone have cost the country billions of dollars in repairs in each of the past four years, according to National Geographic. And that's just in California. Las Vegas is just one of many heavily inhabited areas that cannot continue to sustain pumping water. America is still reeling from the devastations of recent hurricanes, including those in Puerto Rico and North Carolina. These are only a few of the recent catastrophic natural disasters in America.

The Earth is going through a man-made mass extinction, the Holocene Extinction. Fifty percent of individual animals have been lost since 1970 (The Guardian). Sharks—which survived the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction that killed the dinosaurs—are going extinct because of humans. Elephants? Giraffes? On the way out. The ocean is acidifying. Reefs are dying. Ice caps are crashing down. Islands are drowning. Humankind is rapidly approaching either an end or a massive change. However, at the presidential level, change is not only not happening, environmental actions have in fact hugely regressed under Trump’s administration.

A basic search on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website shows that there has been no new data provided on carbon emissions in the United States since 2017, shortly after President Trump took office. While this may be unsurprising, it is also ludicrous and absolutely unacceptable that Americans are restricted from access to crucial information paid for by their very own tax dollars.

An April 17th “Message From the Future,” published by The Intercept and narrated by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, illustrates a brief history of America’s understanding of and actions towards climate change. The video begins by illustrating that Exxonmobil, one of just 100 corporations that contribute 71% of global carbon emissions (according to the Carbon Majors Report), spent the 1970’s and 80’s researching climate change. Exxon gained understanding of the emitters of greenhouse gases, and reported it to the government. The oil corporation then subsequently invested millions of dollars in covering up this information, painting climate change, which was then called global warming, as a hoax.

Why would big companies like Exxon not care about their own planet melting into ruins? Because big businesses are making big dollars in taking down the environment, one natural disaster at a time. No matter how high gas prices get, Americans will likely keep paying those prices. No matter how many forests are knocked down to host methane-producing cows, Americans are still buying burgers from Mcdonalds. The current generation might not get a chance to raise their children, but hey, at least these companies get to make billions right now!

However, there is an alternative. Ocasio-Cortez fast-forwards to what a future under the Green New Deal (GND) would look like. This deal is the real deal. GND would bring new jobs to America, jobs that focus on having the entire country produce power with the use of sustainable energy sources. Transportation would be overhauled, with electric cars replacing gas-powered ones. GND is a comprehensive plan for the functioning of the entire country, complete with a higher minimum wage, greater job security, affordable housing, and free higher education.

The changes need to happen now. Turning off your lights when you leave the room is far from enough at this point. Small changes are not going to save the planet. America is a democracy, and though the power of a vote can sometimes be lost in translation, your ballot is still powerful. The 2020 election is coming, and many major candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren, have pledged their support for the Green New Deal. Do your research, and cast your ballot with care.

Do not stop learning everything you can about climate change. Knowledge is power, and so is understanding that climate change is permanent news.