Climate Change: Our Own Fault and Our Own Demise


Kathryn Zitt, Writer

At some point over the summer, you must’ve flipped on the news. If you have, you may have heard about the hurricanes that formed in the Gulf: Hurricane Irma, which ravaged the coast of Florida; Harvey, which battered Houston; Katia, which impacted Mexico; Jose, which followed Irma’s path of destruction through the Caribbean; and finally, Maria, which catastrophically damaged Puerto Rico and other Caribbean countries. If not these stories, then you must’ve heard of the forest fires raging over the west coast of the United States. If not, then this is your wake up call.

Climate change is defined as a change in global or regional climate patterns, and it can result in severe natural disasters, like the several hurricanes we witnessed at the tail end of the summer. The Gulf is a natural hurricane starter, but the issue isn’t so much the hurricanes themselves, but the rate at which they were able to form and the extreme severity of them, matching patterns we haven’t seen in years.

So what causes climate change? According to NASA, the main cause of climate change is the recent growth in the “greenhouse effect,” which is when the Earth warms as a result of heat traveling towards space that gets trapped in the atmosphere. One of the biggest causes of this? Carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a chemical which can be released naturally but can also be released through human practices such as deforestation, land use changes, and the burning of fossil fuels. A large impact on global climate change is also factory farming, a practice in which mass amounts of animals (specifically cattle) are funneled into large industrialized farms. Cattle release CO2 into the air when they pass gas, and a large part of CO2 being released into the atmosphere can be chalked up to industrialized agriculture, manned by humans. In fact, NASA says that humans have increased the rate of CO2 entering the atmosphere by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began. Most scientists have agreed that we’ve reached the point of “no return” for climate change, meaning we can’t stop it, but we can still slow it down and weaken its effects.

The problem isn’t so much an individual one–you doing your best to recycle and take public transportation instead of driving is helpful, but only on a small scale. The issue is corporations: drilling corporations that frack our deserts and our mountains, water companies that bottle up all the springs in California, and wealthy people who line their pockets at the expense of the environment and propagate lies that climate change isn’t happening. We have a government that turns a blind eye to these companies destroying our Earth by putting the profiteering of the rich over real human lives. For example, we know that coal is no longer an effective source of energy but our government still supports it. Why? Because it is more cost effective for these corporations to burn coal than it is for them build solar panels and wind propellers.  The President and other conservative lobbyists do not care about coal miners. If they did, they wouldn’t be trying to take away the affordable insurance that minors use to seek treatment for black lung and other mining-related health conditions. These congressional lobbyists, especially those with money invested in oil companies, only care about the labor they put in to keep the oil industry standing, even though by all intents and purposes, oil is obsolete.

To be frank, our country is changing, regardless of what politicians are insisting. We are slowly moving away from being a greenhouse-gas-producing manufacturing nation to a nation that specializes in service work. By sending our factories overseas in search of cheap labor (another contentious issue), the country is slowly shifting away from those blue-collar labor based professions. We are no longer a nation that needs to frack or burn coal, despite what any out of touch politicians and money grabbing capitalists are insisting.

What comes out of nationwide and global mass production? Greenhouse gas and CO2 get released into the atmosphere which pokes holes into our ozone layer and allows direct sunlight to hit our planet, which melts our ice caps and heats up our oceans, which in turn heats up the Gulf and causes the perfect environment for multiple hurricanes to form at once. Climate change has always been an issue for as long as the Earth has been turning, but extreme climate change, multiple-hurricanes-forming-in-the-Gulf-at-once climate change, is the direct result of systematic intervention by humans. We created this monster, and the longer we refuse to acknowledge it, the bigger a threat it poses to life as we know it.