Art by Gabby DiGiovanni
This past wildfire season, the fires began in August and have already decimated at least 3% of California’s land, making 2020 a record-breaking year for the largest California wildfire in recorded history.
California, Oregon and Washington are not the only victims of natural disasters. Fires have destroyed land in other states across the country, and a devastatingly high number of hurricanes continue to hit the East Coast. Record-breaking temperatures, as well as ocean levels across the world, are also rising each year. All the numbers are pointing to one explanation: climate change.
The world may not be ending, but the Earth’s climate is shifting, and Americans need to pay attention.
Every degree matters, according to Hoegh-Guldberg’s 2019 article The Human Imperative of Stabilising Global Climate Change at 1.5C. If the world limits the rise in Earth’s average temperature to 1 C instead of 2 C, 10 million people would be saved from losing their homes to rising sea levels. As much as 2 million km2 of permafrost would be reserved. Half of the people who experience water scarcity would be spared.
“The global land and ocean surface temperature for March 2020 was 1.16°C (2.09°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F) and the second-highest in the 141-year record,” according to National Center for Environmental Information.
The increase in average global temperature is a result of the use of fossil fuels and other emissions that humans have been producing since the beginning of the industrial age.
As one of 8 billion people, it is daunting to think about reversing the damage, but anyone, and everyone, can become an agent of change.
On an individual level, students can contact the Pepperdine Volunteer Center and seek out opportunities to serve with the Sustainability Team. The Green Team as well as the Food Recovery Network provide opportunities for students to gain more knowledge and experience in environmental sustainability.
For students and faculty who have no desire to spend free time in the lovely Pepperdine bubble, there are many other ways to decrease one’s ecological impact on Earth.
Fast fashion, factory farms, transportation and large corporations are Earth’s current enemies. Those with a passion for fashion can buy second-hand or upcycled clothes, support local sustainable brands, recycle denim items and purchase less low-quality items.
People can also be mindful of food consumption by eating less beef and other meats, purchasing in-season products from local farms and using or composting leftovers. Anyone can travel more sustainably by riding trains in lieu of planes, walking or biking instead of driving.
Researching government representatives and candidates and contacting councilmembers with ideas and concerns regarding environmental sustainability policies will also help environmentalists exercise their voices.
These actions will make people feel better about themselves more than drastically changing the world. Unfortunately, it’s because large corporations create most pollution; however, these companies have little power without consumer support.
Once one person changes their behavior, others around them can be influenced, allowing ethical decision-making to become the norm. This will ultimately create a new culture focused on taking care of our natural home so that the next fire will not burn it down.
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