By: Brian Cieplicki ’19
- Countries around the world are facing major issues caused by heavy pollution. China is a prominent example of this is issue. A recent article from the New York Times suggests that the air pollution in China contributes to roughly 1.6 million deaths every year. This piece also suggests that nearly half of the Chinese population breathes in air that would not be considered healthy by United States standards. Despite this obvious issue, China, according to a recent piece from Tech Times, will continue to construct more coal-based electrical power stations every week for at least the next 10 years. India is facing a similar issue. An article from The Economist suggests that there are parts of India, such as Delhi, where pollution is even worse than that of China. India, however, is making a number of efforts to improve air quality, such as measuring air quality in all cities and looking to improve fuel standards. The list of countries facing detrimental pollution is quite vast, and includes countries such as Mongolia, Pakistan, Iran, and Egypt.
- Climate change is playing an important role in economic decisions around the world. A prominent debate among politicians in the United States this past year concerns the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline. The Keystone pipeline would create roughly 42,000 temporary jobs and contribute roughly 3.4 billion dollars to the U.S. economy, but the oil-sands petroleum that it would be transporting generates roughly 17% more carbon pollution than regular oil, and a leak from the pipeline would be detrimental to the environment. President Obama has recently rejected the pipeline’s construction, primarily because the perceived negative environmental impact outweighed its economic benefits. Exxonmobil, an oil and gas corporation, is currently under investigation for allegedly understating the threat that climate change poses by deviating from the actual information attained by the company’s scientific research. Any action taken to downplay the effects of climate change would have been taken purely out of economic interest, as a rising concern of climate change threatens the profitability of the fossil fuel industry. As countries continue to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gasses and shift towards clean energy, oil companies will become increasingly concerned for their financial well-being.
- One area where climate change’s impact is evident is the ocean. According to NASA, land ice is melting at a rate of 287 billion metric tons per year. This development has caused sea levels to rise, and sea levels are rising at a rate of 3.24 millimeters per year. This is a seemingly insignificant number, however, if this rate persists, its consequences will become obvious in the near future. A recent article by Business Insider suggests that there are already 414 cities in just the United States that will inevitably be underwater in the near future due to the damage already done by humans. Among these cities are very populated ones, including Miami, Sacramento, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Shanghai, Kolkata, Jakarta, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Another city at a great risk of becoming submerged is New York City, where studies show that if drastic actions are not taken, the eventual submerging of parts of this city are inevitable.
- Climate change is the catalyst of some strange and drastic geographical changes around the world. The Amazon Rainforest, the largest rainforest on the planet, is undergoing significant change as a result of climate change. According to a piece by the World Wide Fund for Nature, by the year 2050, the temperature in the Amazon will have increased by 2 to 3 degrees. This, combined with a decrease in rainfall, will cause longer and more frequent droughts, which will have devastating effects on the wildlife and overall makeup of the area. Another place where significant geographic change is taking place is the Sahara Desert. Changing inversely to the Amazon, the Sahara is becoming greener. An article from National Geographic News suggests that rising temperatures have led to rising rainfall in many regions of the Sahara, thus making these areas noticeably greener. Though this change has the potential to benefit some in the area, the principle of such significant changes happening in noteworthy geographic regions highlights the impact that climate change is having.
- Climate change has already proven to be catastrophic for a myriad of species of animals, and it continues to affect more species each day. A recent piece by National Geographic News suggests that many scientists believe polar bears could go extinct by the year 2020. This prediction is due to the decline in the seal population, as well as the shortening of the period that the sea ice is frozen, which forces the bears to spend more time on land, where they are not meant to spend large periods of time. Another species facing the possibility of extinction are the saigas, a species of antelopes in Central Asia. According to an article by The New York Times, last spring, over half of the population of these species died off in less than a month. According to Endangered Earth, there are over 16,000 endangered species in the world right now. Among these are blue whales, chimpanzees, green turtles and giant pandas.
- International cooperation is crucial to finding a proper solution. Last September, a climate change summit took place in New York, where leaders from around the world gathered together to begin to tackle this important issue. At the end of November, the United Nations will a climate change conference in Paris, France. At this conference, the UN will negotiate on a new worldwide climate change agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly. According to CBC News, this agreement will involve 146 countries, which, together, make up roughly 86 percent of current emissions.