You’re walking down the street and see big chimneys attached to a working factory. You look up to see the beautiful blue sky being rapidly consumed by thick plumes of smoke turning it a midnight black. Your chest tightens up, then you start coughing, violently. As you cough, you suddenly realize how the word has changed. You see dead trees and animals, people wearing face masks while looking down at their phones watching videos on YouTube. Nobody is paying attention to what is happening around them. You didn't notice what was happening around you either, until now.
The Earth has warned us about our doom many times. This is important to realize this because someday we'll look back and regret not doing something about it. It’s not too late, we can still do something about it now.
Some recent warnings are the 2018 California wildfire, The Camp Fire, which started in Butte County, California. According to the Washington Post, it lasted two to three weeks destroying over 150,000 acres of land and around 18,800 buildings. It caused $16.5 billion of damage, forcing 52,000 people to evacuate, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless and a total of 85 casualties.
The Camp Fire was caused by a faulty electric transmission line by company PG&E and lasted weeks because California was facing a drought caused by climate change. Since the fire burnt for so long, a bunch of carbon dioxide was released into the air, which will make climate change and global warming worse. The 150 thousand acres destroyed means that there are fewer trees to help us breathe. This fire felt predictable because electric company PG&E is responsible for 10 fires in 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Then, there were the Australian bushfires which started in September 2019. According to Time Magazine, the fires scorched millions of acres, killed two dozen people, and killed an estimated half a billion animals in the country in only a few months. Again, these fires create a lot of carbon dioxide that is heating up the Earth more and that, on top of all of our bad habits, will lead to the destruction of our planet with us on it.
If you’re unaware, let me tell you, climate change is a real thing and it isn't pretty. Climate change comes in different forms, but it all results in destroying our earth. For example, the global average surface temperature has increased by more than 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to National Geographic. Our daily habits contribute to global warming, such as driving to school or work or just throwing trash on the ground when you can’t find the nearest trash or recycling bin.
According to NASA’s website, the increase in temperature is “a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.” Global warming then leads to extreme weather events and natural disasters. According to NASA, the number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950.
It’s important to discuss these warnings so that action can take place. In the past, we started using more fossil fuels to create things, focusing on how bright and lovely our future will be with a bunch of new technology. But if we keep treating our Earth like this, the only one we have, we won’t be able to replace it like we can replace a broken iPhone. We should work together and help fix it by doing little things like throwing your waste in the trash can, using more reusable items and only driving a car when necessary. It would make our world a much better place to live with cleaner streets that we are proud to walk across, better air to breathe and less trash in the ocean.
When people ask if we understand what's happening to the planet we say yes, but we often don't do anything to help make the world better. Let me be the pair of glasses you need to see the world, because before you know it there won’t be anything else to see. I know this is scary to think about, but it needs to be said before it's too late. And it's almost too late.
Another thing we can do to address fires is advocate for post-fire seeding. According to National Geographic, it helps suppress and put out fires before they become big. It happens often in North America, but is rare in other parts of the world like Australia. Planting forests with non-native, fire-resistant vegetation can help with land management, as those new plants will be much less likely to burn and therefore spread fire.
Let’s make a commitment to actually doing something about the climate. After reading this, reflect on how your own behavior contributes to climate change, and try and dial it down. It’s the only way to help our planet.