The Concerns of Climate Change and How to be More Environmentally Friendly

Kenzy Markello, Staff Writer

We’ve all heard the stories of the recent Australian bushfires that wiped out almost two thousand homes and five hundred million animals due to the increase of global temperatures and a decrease in rainfall. While fluctuations in temperature have occurred naturally since the earth was formed, the rate of climate change with humans now on the planet is unprecedented. 

Factors such as industrialization, capitalism, deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, mass transportation, and agriculture have caused a spike in carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions that creates this crisis. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 412 parts per million, the highest level in 650,000 years. Carbon dioxide helps create an insulating layer in our atmosphere that traps solar heat here on earth. Global temperatures have risen by 1.9º Fahrenheit since 1880, and eighteen out of the nineteen warmest years on record have taken place since 2001. Sea levels have risen by 3.3 millimeters a year, which already affects residents of Cape Cod and the Islands. The Arctic sea ice typically hits its lowest surface area in September, but the ice’s minimum extent has decreased by 12.8% per decade and the ice sheets themselves have decreased by 413 gigatons a year in mass. 

These problems remain unsolved for two reasons. First, there are still individuals and organizations that refuse to acknowledge the role of humanity in climate change, calling global warming “fake news.” Second, there are those who expect the younger generations to fix this issue instead of taking any action themselves. I find this deeply upsetting because by 2030 we will not be able to reverse the effects of climate change if there is not any action taken to prevent this from happening.  Consequently, I, the students of Falmouth Academy, and the younger generations of the world will not live the same rich, full lives that the older generations who ignore the warnings and hurt the environment lived. Our generation lives in constant fear of the demise of the planet and is not taken seriously for wanting change. Adolescents like Greta Thunberg, a 17-year-old activist from Sweden, havemade it their mission to spread awareness of this issue. No one asked them to do this. Instead, they believe it their moral responsibility; they want to take control of their future.

We must face the facts on this issue and take responsibility for the damage we have caused. As Greta reminded us at the Climate Action Summit: “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction.” We must take action against climate change. Here are a few ways you can do your part to give us a future and be more environmentally friendly.


1. Avoid Single-Use Plastics

Single-use plastics are items that are only good for one use and are the main cause of plastic pollution. People have become more aware of the dangers of single-use plastics lately, especially plastic straws. Other single-use items range from plastic utensils to shopping bags.  All are easily replaced with reusable materials. Try using a metal straw for drinking, and carry around regular silverware in your bag when you’re on the go. When grocery shopping, try using reusable cloth bags, and shop in the bulk section for grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, which can be held in paper bags instead of plastic.


2. Shop Second-Hand

Thrift shopping has become trendy, and with good reason. While you look for vintage finds, you’re also helping out the environment.  A lot of old clothes in closets and in thrift stores end up in landfills instead of being re-purposed and re-worn. It takes 1,800 gallons of water just to make one pair of jeans. By shopping second hand, you are saving water and landfills from overflowing. Plus, you can save a lot of money and find unique garments that can’t be found anywhere else.


3. Cut Down on Consumption of Animal Products

One of the easiest ways to fight climate change is through food. Meat is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Eating beef 3-5 times a week a year adds approximately 1,611 kilograms of annual emissions. While going vegan is one of the easiest ways to lower your carbon footprint, cutting down on animal products, especially beef, is a great way to start. The easiest way to eat less meat is by partaking in Meatless Monday, which is pretty self-explanatory. If you took part in this movement, your meal would be reduced by two and a half times the CO2 emissions compared to those who do not. According to the organization Climate Vegan, every day you go without eating animal products, you save one-hundred gallons of water, forty-five pounds of grains, thirty square feet of forest land, twenty pounds of CO2, and one animal’s life. Not only is this way of eating great for the environment, but also great for your health and bank account. 


4. Use Different Modes of Transportation

Another main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is transportation. The gasses from cars, planes, and large ships are what cause these emissions. While we drive almost everywhere, there are other ways to get from place to place. Start riding your bike, and walk to places more often. Both are good for heart health and save money as well as the environment. For longer distance travel, try taking the train-there won’t ever be any traffic. Another way to travel is sailing, as the boats are directed by the wind instead of gas. While this will increase travel time, at least you’ll have a pretty view!

Now that you are more aware of how to help the environment, remember that climate change is a real, serious issue. We must take responsibility for the damage we have done and be more cautious about how our actions affect our planet. The sooner you start taking action, the better. No matter how great or small your efforts,  you are giving the younger generations the future we have dreamed of and deserve.