It’s Earth Day, an annual reminder to be more environmentally conscious and help take part in sustaining our planet. Similar to past years, the pressing issue remains on climate change and its effect global warming continues to have.
Climate change continues to serve as the basis of all other environmental issues that need to be uncovered. While climate change is initially about the warming of the Earth, Fullerton College professor of Oceanography and Earth Sciences, Dr. Roman P. de Jesus expressed that climate change is much more than rising temperature.
“Warming presents a suite of additional cascading effects around the world,” stated de Jesus.
De Jesus explained how California is a prime example of these effects. As the state enters its second year of below-average rainfall, it puts many cities in the state at risk of drought conditions. This can be a threat to not only personal water usage but agricultural water usage. The drought conditions can then reduce the moisture content of vegetation, which can potentially lead to wildfires. Destruction of this vegetation by wildfires can then lead to mudslides or floods.
In addition to land destruction caused by climate change, the Earth’s population is growing at a significant rate, which may potentially lead to a shortage of resources.
The United Nations, “Ecological Footprint” data already shows the effects of limited resources as we use about “1.6 Earths to use and absorb our waste;” meaning that it will take the Earth over a year and eight months to regenerate the resources we use in a single year.
The population itself sees no signs of stopping, so what can be done in order to ensure the planet has time to catch up on regenerating its resources?
Dr. Royden Hobbs, Environmental Science professor at Fullerton College admits “radical rethinking of the way we interact with the world and what we consider to be quality of life,” will be the biggest step in order to create environmental change.
To see substantial change, Hobbs has expressed that larger policies and societal actions would need to be implemented in order to see us heading down the right path. In order to go down the “right path,” there needs to be a change in everyone’s daily thinking, even if it starts out small.
Hobbs as well as Dr. Sean Chamberlin, professor of Oceanography at Fullerton College, acknowledge that an individual making these changes has a small impact, however, it does not go unnoticed. The instructors suggest starting small; consuming less beef can make a significant impact as meat and dairy account for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to minimizing beef consumption, keeping in mind to use less plastic, take shorter showers daily, shop at thrift stores, and vote in environmentally-conscious politicians when possible can prove to be beneficial for the planet.
Admittingly a challenge, Dr. Hobbs suggests for everyone to be “aware of where you spend your dollar.” When possible, stay aware and try to consume products from larger businesses that are doing their best to protect their environment as well.
Tom Morris, professor of Environmental Sciences at Fullerton College also suggests investing in products wisely. When buying a car, Morris suggests scaling down to the size you need and trying to buy a hybrid car if possible, as it can help reduce your carbon footprint in half.
Luckily, General Motor’s is helping people meet halfway, with chairman and CEO, Mary Barra, issuing a statement in January of 2021 that released their plans to be fully electric by the year 2025.
“Climate change is real, and we want to be part of the solution by putting everyone in an electric vehicle,” stated Barra. He continued by stating that there need to be millions of electric vehicles on the road to help make an impact on a zero-emission future.
On January 20, when newly elected President Joe Biden took office, the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement. The agreement is an international legally binding treaty with the goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius and will do so by working on a five-year cycle and reevaluating necessary actions to take in order to remain within their goal.
More locally, the City of Fullerton has taken a climate change initiative by promoting green projects for a sustainable Fullerton. These initiatives, last updated April 22, 2020, include some of the following goals: energy use conservation, water conservation, air quality improvement, and meeting waste reduction and recycling goals.
As all of these global and local actions begin to take place, it strikes hope for the future as everyone can all work together to sustain the Earth. and as Dr. Chamberlin states,
“We may hit the iceberg, so to speak, but I am optimistic that we won’t sink,” Dr. Chamberlin encouraged.