“Climate Change Updates: [Climate Change for the Worst and the Better]”

By Colleen Nakhooda and Mira Martin

Summary of Climate Change and the Paris Agreement:

Looking back on this year, the news headlines have been focused on the coronavirus. It was the new craze and responsible for an eruption of confusion, debate, and worry. Understandably, it sparked the interest of millions of people, however it clouded the coverage of other major issues. With the probability of its urgency slipping from people’s minds, this article will be centered around major climate change updates. 

As everyone is hopefully aware, climate change is the unnatural increase of the earth’s temperature due to human activity. The drastic escalation in temperature is connected to the amount of carbon emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution, which began in the late eighteenth century and has continued until the present day. Carbon dioxide traps heat, preventing it from escaping the atmosphere and therefore “forces” climate change. While carbon is a natural gas in the environment, being caused by fires, volcanic eruptions, and such, humans are held responsible for a forty seven percent increase in carbon emissions. The usage of fossil fuels and constant acts of deforestation are primary examples of humans increasing the percentage of carbon in the air. 

It is said that if climate change is not reduced dramatically, it will become irreversible in the next ten years. Simply putting it, the world will be doomed to excessive droughts, catastrophic floods and natural disasters, and heavily polluted air. These sudden facts have turned heads and a pact of 188 (used to be 188) countries were formed in 2016 to create the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement sets goals for each nation to achieve by the end of a year. If every nation meets the targets, the hopes are that temperature warming will fall below two degrees celsius rather than the four degrees celsius (it’s current state). As an example, China’s 2020 target consisted of total carbon emissions being forty five percent less than the 2005 numbers as well as increasing the usage of clean energy sources by fifteen percent and increasing forest coverage by forty million hectares. If all these goals were on track, the world would be in a relatively good state of temperature regulation. However, the battle of science at the agreement and the U.S. formally pulling out of the arrangement has prevented the success of achieving goals. To better understand, a series of updates has been made: 

The Good News: Colleen Nakhooda

Although in the midst of a global pandemic, it seems like the world is taking some small, very small, steps to creating a more clear and clean environment, and most of all, a purer air quality. Due to the lockdowns and quarantine efforts of COVID-19, the amount of carbon emissions produced by transportation has decreased. Although this is a positive, there still remains high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere through the slow cycling process that often takes hundreds of years to release these emissions from the air. This decrease of emissions, and the closing down of factories, has therefore created a larger opportunity to decrease the harmful pollutants that are flooding the world’s clean air supply. Through this decrease of transportation emissions, the increase of biking and walking has increased and therefore helped the environment thoroughly. 

Throughout the pandemic, countries like Germany, or continents such as Europe, have taken advantage of the extra time to focus on the growing climate crisis and have helped to fund billions of dollars in efforts to create a more sustainable environment. France for example, has produced 8.8 billion dollars to put into the car industry and is top in the world for producing the most electric run cars which is a major step in a sustainable environment. This is a major step in creating an environment where emissions and pollutants are not always constantly being floated around in the air. 

Many countries have taken on a positive outlook towards the pandemic by creating a series of green deals, and applying major investments to further create a more sustainable society. Here’s a list of some of the countries and continents that have done just that. 

European Commission: greenest stimulus plan — a 750 billion euro ($825 billion) economic recovery plan with the goal for the EU to be carbon neutral by 2050

Germany: created a 145 billion dollar plan to devote one third of its fund to creating a more sustainable society through public transportation, electric vehicles, renewable energy, and more → government is also decreasing the cost for clean energy, increasing research for development  of green hydrogen, and investing survival plans for agriculture and forest management

France:  investing $8.8 billion to help its car industry, with the aim of becoming the main producer of electric vehicles in Europe 

South Korea: introduced a Green New Deal that would make it the first East Asian country to commit to a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 

The Bad News: Mira Martin 

While many goals have been set to decelerate the increase of carbon emissions, some places have fallen short, causing concern for the future of the world. It is substantial to both celebrate the successes of this battle for earth’s health, it is also pivotal to be aware of where we fall short to resolve these faults. 

In a devastating turn of events, the United States became the first country to depart from the Paris Agreement. This has proven to have a major impact on untangling and solving the issue of climate change as the United States was responsible for the second largest amount of emissions, totaling at six point seven billion metric tons in 2018. If there is even hope of limiting carbon dioxide emissions, the United States must turn focus onto the issue. But unfortunately, the United States federal government has openly undermined the importance of battling for the world’s well being, not following in the footsteps of other nations apart of the Paris Agreement.

Naturally, climate change effects the circadian rhythms of the world. The natural flow of  earthly functions. Natural disasters such as flooding, hurricanes, and droughts occur, but climate change has increased their severity. This further impacts the lives of  wild animals and  freshwater supplies.  As an example of these severe storms and disasters, the wildfires that took place this past summer along the west coast are partially a result of climate change. While the cause may not have been directly sourced from changing climate, the longevity of the fires was heavily influenced by climate change. The natural disasters are predicted to get worse over time.

As the issue increases, climate change becomes more and more detrimental and the effects become irreversible within the next ten years. Communities and areas that contribute the least from the problem are the most heavily affected. Lower income families are struggling to cope with the natural disasters. 

We Want to Scare You! 

    Throughout the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but also before coronavirus time, climate change has been a growing concern that if not stopped, will begin to become more and more dangerous to the world today. If people do not start to take a hold of climate change control by creating a more sustainable and evolving society, generations of children and people to come will be in grave danger. Whether it is the rising sea levels, global warming, air pollution, and much more, climate change affects more sectors of life than we know. This article was to give people some insight on what people are trying to do to help to stop this growing problem, but also to scare you a little bit. Yes I said it, we WANT to scare you! This is because if we do not, then perhaps people will not come to realize that what you do, affects the environment EVERY SINGLE DAY. Whether it took a global pandemic to give people this realization or not, climate change will live on for better, or for worse. Through COVID-19 lockdowns, the air pollution has gone down by a considerable percent, and while countries have been given time to create sustainability plans and grant more funding to climate change control efforts, it is not enough. The US especially has pulled out of a series of climate change deals throughout the course of Donald Trump’s presidency, and is lacking to enforce sustainability efforts to its citizens. We, as American citizens must follow through with this ourselves and create a more healthy and pure world for everyone. Until this happens, more and more time will pass and we will get closer and closer to the inevitable end of the world itself. So, keep talking about this with others, try and look up how to be a more sustainable citizen, and most importantly, believe and understand that climate change is a major danger to society and needs to be controlled. 

Please reach out to Colleen Nakhooda and Mira Martin at cnakhooda24@hb.edu and mmartin24@hb.edu if you would like to be a part of a larger discussion on climate change in our podcast “We Think We Can Change the World”, super casual conversation and really no commitment as long as you like to talk for 5 mins with us for one episode or more if you choose. Thank you for reading and have an awesome break!