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Climate change: A crisis, not a controversy

by Alison Maurer - Advertising Manager
Mon, Feb 13th 2017 10:45 pm
Photo taken from BadHombres NPS on Twitter
Photo taken from BadHombres NPS on Twitter

 According to a recent survey from the University of New Hampshire, "On Renewable Energy and Climate, Trump Voters Stand Apart," only 25 percent of Trump voters believe that climate change is happening and that it is caused by humans. 

It would be one thing if we rarely talked about climate change in the media, if nobody really had any information. However, climate change has been on the agenda for years. We have had thousands of credible scientists tell us that climate change is real and is caused by human activity. We have heard story-after-story about melting polar caps, droughts, rising sea levels and more. Yet a huge demographic of the United States population refuses to believe it.

They say "ignorance is bliss." Be that as it may, we cannot afford to be ignorant anymore. The days of bliss are far behind us and it is time to face the music: Climate change is happening and we need to do everything in our power to stop it. That means cutting down our dependence on oil, natural gas and other pollutants and switch to more renewable sources of energy.

This past week, The House of Representatives voted to abolish an Obama-era rule against burning natural gas emissions that are released while drilling for oil. This gas could be collected and used, but it ends up being cheaper for the oil companies to burn it as it comes out of the ground, releasing carbon dioxide into the air.

"Methane, the primary gas burned off during flaring operations, is strong contributor to climate change. It is about 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, although it does not stay in the air as long." TIME Magazine states in the article House Overturns Obama Administration's Methane Gas Emission Rule by Matthew Daly of AP, "Methane emissions make up about nine percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to government estimates."

This nine percent may not seem like much, but the U.S.  has the second highest greenhouse gas emissions in the world, right behind China and its enormous population. Third place is the entirety of the European Union. There is more methane emitted in the U.S. than there is greenhouse gas in most of South America, according to the World Resources Institute.

Right now, with the way our energy is produced, we have environmental and public health groups protesting. There are risks of ozone formation, which lead to health problems that range from an increase in asthma patients to premature death. I am horrified to live in a country where the party with full control of the government cares more about big oil companies than children with life-threatening asthma.

China is the only country in the world with higher pollution than the U.S. and its conditions are so terrible that some cities are becoming practically unlivable due to a heavy smog. 

"Paper face masks have been common here for a long time, but now the heavy-duty kind with purifying canister filters - of the sort you might wear for a day of asbestos removal - are frequently seen on the streets. On bad days, bike lanes are completely deserted, as people stay at home or retreat to the conditioned environments of hermetically-sealed malls," states The Guardian in the article "Inside Bejing's airpocalypse - a city made 'almost uninhabitable' by pollution."

This is not out of the question for the U.S. According to the World Resources Institute, we currently are emitting the same amount China was 10 years ago. 10 years ago, China didn't think it had a problem either, and now, its children play soccer in big sealed bubbles.

If we, as a country, keep making these steps backwards, that will be our future. Wearing expensive air purification masks and hermetically sealing schools and malls will only be the beginning. Pollution on the scale we are approaching could be limiting our freedoms that this country holds so dear.

"Scientists warn that carbon pollution and resulting climate change are expected to lead to more intense hurricanes and storms, heavier and more frequent flooding, increased drought, and more severe wildfires - events that can cause deaths, injuries, and billions of dollars of damage to property and the nation's infrastructure," according to the Clear Air Act proposed by the EPA.

We cannot ignore this. The American people need a reality check and fast. We cannot afford to be cavalier. The environment needs to be a top concern and we need to stop taking these important protections away.

 

amaur2@brockport.edu

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