To most of the country, global warming, or the well-documented rise of the planet’s temperature is recognized as a logical and acknowledged issue. But to a small, yet formidable minority, the notions that the Earth is getting warmer, ice is melting worldwide and sea levels are rising at a threatening level are still strange and implausible phenomena.
But what’s most depressing are the arguments posed be skeptics. Why is there still snow in the winter time? Why aren’t glaciers melting? To many naysayers, climate change has become the butt of a joke, especially those living in the colder parts of the country where the winters blanket the city with white snow. For decades, climate change scientists have attempted to respond to critics, yet they still exist in droves.
Thankfully, this is now just a small piece of America.
A new poll revealed that 80 percent of Americans now believe in global warming and that it will be a serious problem if nothing is done about it, a 7 percent change from 2009.
To climate skeptics, the evidence of global warming is either inadequate or the results are inconclusive. It’s difficult to reason with those who lack fundamental rationality or common sense even though the answer is all around them. Signs are appearing all over that the planet is warming and have been for a while, and as proven, warmer temperature brings more extreme weather events, like more storms, more floods and even more snow.
Then there were the droughts that ravaged more than 20 states, heat waves and wildfires that burned through millions of acres of land, and Hurricane Sandy, which surged through the New York harbor and the Northeast.
Abnormal weather events became the norm in 2012 and monthly records were shattered as well, 3,527 of them, even more than 2011, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
But despite years of overwhelming evidence, little has been done by the government to combat climate change. During the first four years of his presidency, climate change has largely been absent in President Obama’s rhetoric.
But in his second inaugural address, he changed course and announced: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Bold words were made by the president in his address but it’s been decades since scientists first understood the dynamics of global warming and have accurately predicted the slow rise of our planet’s temperature.
“More should be done,” political science professor Megan Mullin said. “Policy debates about climate change should have been going on 20 years ago.”
Saying it will be moral obligation to react to global warming is one thing. Making it a duty, however, is another. Fortunately, promoting a greener culture can be done anywhere. Work is also being done at Temple University’s Office of Sustainability, a new administrative unit on campus focused on neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions and to promote environmental literacy throughout Temple’s campus.
According to their website, the university submits a biannual progress report entitled the Climate Action Plan. Among the major initiatives Temple University have fostered in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are to minimize waste and increase recycling, creating and promoting a biking culture, and instituting an energy conservation policy which includes standard temperature ranges for summer and winter times.
There is no question that the Earth is getting warmer and our impact on the climate patterns is part of that. Many of us don’t understand fully about the greenhouse effect, but simple everyday tasks from the foods we eat, the amount of electricity that we use and the cars that we drive release additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, thus warming the planet a little bit more.
Mullin believes that “curtailing fossil fuels, increasing prices on carbon and creating incentives for people to rely less on their automotive vehicles and more on mass transit,” are just a few policy debates the government can pursue. But appropriate action can be also be done in a local level too such as educating and providing insight to students on issues pertaining to environmental accountability.
Naveed Ahsan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.