Since climate change first became a major political issue in the 1990s, we’ve heard increasingly dire news about the situation we are in collectively. The atmosphere’s carbon dioxide content has been spiking, and the world’s average temperature has risen nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 150 years. This figure may not sound like much, but when you take into account the size of the entire globe, the amount of energy needed to cause such a change is staggering.
You would be right to think that an increase of 2 degrees doesn’t change much if the forecast simply read a couple degrees higher than it would have before throughout the world. Changes in the world’s average temperature are, after all, just part of the Earth’s natural cycles. But changes of multiple degrees have in the past occurred over millions of years.
The current change is taking place orders of magnitude faster. The real problem lies in the fact that a delicate balance of physical and ecological cycles are being thrown off rapidly. The news media is constantly reporting on the mass extinction of previously stable species around the world and the rising sea levels from the melting of the polar ice caps. Dire predictions for the future of the planet are bubbling up. Meanwhile, regions in the United States including the Northeast and the Midwest have been experiencing erratic weather in the last few years.
Given the evidence, it’s a little terrifying how many people refuse to acknowledge that climate change is even happening at all. President Trump is, of course, complicating the matter. According to Trump, his EPA budget cuts were intended to open up job opportunities in the coal mining industry. The decision sums up his stance on the problem: climate change is nothing but a hoax that gets in the way of economic growth for the United States. And a large chunk of Trump’s supporters won’t entertain the possibility that he might be wrong, or that they can disagree with him.
The truly dangerous pattern that is happening is exactly this dogmatic stance. Democrats don’t believe in global warming in order to undermine the Republican Party, Donald Trump, or America’s workers. For instance, if massive changes in global ecosystems cause widespread famine, details like nationality or ideology will be irrelevant. The problem at hand is not a political one, but a human one. If we are to make effective decisions for the future of our species, we must keep the big picture in sight. Jobs certainly are important, and not having one is a major struggle in this country. But we may be facing a future where none of that matters if we do not prioritize our planet’s health. It is, after all, our home.