By: Francesca Parroco
There are many who do not believe in climate change. There is a wide range of possibilities of why these suspicions exist, but a main one is not knowing the facts or the path of logic that brings us to the conclusion of the destruction of our planet.
(all facts are according to NASA on https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/)
First, there is the obvious: due to advances in technology, carbon dioxide levels have skyrocketed since the Industrial Revolution. There is no denying that, as a more technologically advanced civilization, there are more places such as factories emitting fossil fuels, including carbon dioxide. One may believe that plants can just convert the carbon dioxide, but trees and other plants are constantly being destroyed for our own benefit, such as commercial buildings. Therefore, there are not enough plants to photosynthesize the increasing oxygen. In simple terms, there is now more carbon dioxide and less plants.
Cars, too, emit gases that are as detrimental as the overflow of carbon dioxide. These harmful gases rise in the atmosphere and eventually reach the ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s immense heat. Because of this constant damage to the ozone layer, it becomes weaker over time, letting more and more sunlight through. This is what is known as global warming. It is called this because of how the Earth is progressively increasing in temperature because of the sun’s heat, and we can no longer rely on the one thing protecting us from it because we have slowly been destroying it. It is true that we can just protect ourselves from the sun as we always have, through sunblock and shade. Although, that is not the case. Have you ever felt how hot it is when you are in 100 degree Fahrenheit weather? Now, imagine that, but exactly 270,000 times hotter. The sun is 27,000,000 (27 million) degrees Fahrenheit, and Earth is the third planet closest to the sun. I understand that you may not think that the heat can honestly travel that far, but just imagine how you are able to feel the heat of a campfire, which is approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and think about the sun as one big campfire. Earth is not the closest to the sun, but it is third out of eight planets in our orbit.
This progressive heating is causing ice caps to melt, taking away the habitats of many animals. Many assume that this has no effect on humans, when really, it leads to the increased likelihood of each and every one of our lives being destroyed. Because of the melting, the sea levels are rising, seeing as ice becomes water. When these levels rise, more floods occur in coastal areas. This may not affect those who do not live near large bodies of water, but if the levels keep rising, they will. Floods destroy homes, money, and lives overall.
Another effect of the damage caused by human activities is ocean acidification. As previously discussed, toxic chemicals rise into the atmosphere. The atmosphere is where clouds and rain form, meaning that when unhealthy air rises, unhealthy precipitation falls. Oceans also absorb these pollutants, meaning that the plant and animal life there are dying. Along with this, acid rain is more likely to occur, destroying buildings and being very toxic to those who experience it.
Overall, it is very clear the causes and effects of climate change and how it affects each and every one of us, not just plants and animals. Remember that it is currently not too late to save and restore our planet, but it will be too late in just 6 years, by 2027.
By: Charlotte Phan
From wearing masks every time you step out, the rise of online meetings, and entire county lockdowns, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have affected every aspect of our lives, but that doesn’t mean we should let it affect our efforts in being sustainable.
Measures used to limit overcrowding and encourage social distancing have had some positive impacts to the environment itself which you can read more of here. Even levels of air pollution in New York have reduced by nearly 50% because of measures taken to control the virus (Henriques, 2020). However, the pandemic has not been shy of bringing in negative impacts along with the positive into the environment.
Due to safety precautions, takeout is packaged and sealed in materials such as plastic wrap and styrofoam. Disposable masks, although an extremely crucial part of protecting one’s community, have begun piling up in landfills and are even seen discarded on the streets of cities. Not only do we have to face the reality of the pandemic’s impact of families and workers, but we must also be conscious of how it has started to affect our Earth. Despite these realities often becoming discouraging, here are a few ways to practice sustainability during a pandemic!
Reuse, Reuse, Reuse! (Safely)
Although sharing water bottles with others might not be the smartest or safest choice during a pandemic, using your own reusable water bottles helps in limiting your carbon footprint. Just make sure to wash your hands as well as your bottles after every use! Plastic water bottles can still be avoided, and reusable water bottles are just as safe (as long as you’re not sharing)!
At times, having a disposable mask could be the only way to protect yourself and others when going out, and that’s okay! However if you are able to, purchasing reusable masks is definitely the more sustainable (and usually more cost effective) route. And always make sure to wash after use! Keep in mind that N95 and surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare providers and first responders. Normal cloth masks are just as protective!
From takeout to shopping, sometimes plastic bags are the only option, especially when certain stores may turn down bringing in reusable bags depending on your location. But don’t fear! If you must use a plastic bag, make an effort to bring it home and provide it with a second life! They can be used for storage, or even a fun plastic-bag crochet project. You can also use them as smaller trash bags for your trash cans, extending the life of the plastic bag.
Taking-out (What You Need)
Some restaurants will discard utensils that were given even the slightest touch by customers, even if they were not actually used. When ordering takeout over the phone or in drive-throughs, tell restaurants ahead of time (either by phone or immediately after ordering if you are in person) how many utensils you actually need, if you need napkins, and turn down plastic straws if you are able to.
Advocate With Your Wallet
For some of us, the pandemic has restricted us from going out which limits our ability to purchase things in person. Due to this, many have turned to online shopping for necessities. As you buy products, look for businesses and sellers who are ethical and use sustainable practices. If your favorite businesses do not have any practices, reach out and let them know! Customer feedback is always helpful. Using your consumer power could do wonders for the Earth as well as future sustainable practices other businesses and corporations might follow!
The realities we face now may be shocking, discouraging, and may even make you feel hopeless. However, during a situation like this, we should be encouraged to step up as a global community and help create solutions to help others during a time like this!