A looming threat draws ever closer

Climate change is beginning to inspire mainstream change. But will it be enough?


Tim O'Leary

A lack of adaptation to the way humans react to climate change could result in harm to everything. Plant life would suffer, humans would suffer, and everything else would in the process. “We’re getting more mold and more viruses. It’s throwing off the balance,” Zimmerman said. “We could be bringing back viruses from over 10,000 years ago. It’s ridiculous.”

Tim O'Leary, Reporter

The point of no return draws ever closer for mother earth. A number being commonly thrown around is 12 years, making the march to the tipping point dangerously close. Yet still many superpowers, notably the U.S., seem to be doing little to stop it, or perhaps doing more to speed it forward.

“Our insatiable use of power and energy hasn’t been doing anything to help,” social studies teacher Jodi Zimmerman said. “Coal is bad, even the people who mine it agree.”

The incredibly fast industrialization of first world and developing nations is leading to melting ice caps, hotter temperatures, and more natural disasters.

There has been an ever-present danger with climate change, however recently it has reached a mainstream boiling point thanks to people such as Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old, and very prominent activist on the topic, as well as a political shift in the past couple of years.

“When we have a president who is more pro-environment, we think we need to do less,” Zimmerman said. “But when we elect a president who is more outwardly anti-environmental, we tend to get more angsty about the idea.”   

The concern about climate change is nothing new, and a search of Google trends shows how interest in climate change moves in waves. Current interest has been generally increasing since November of 2018 and is on its way to reach the highest interest it ever has.

Yet despite the search interest, there is a general misunderstanding of how drastic shifts in the earth’s climate can be.

“We as Americans are unbelievably ignorant,” Zimmerman said. “Or if nothing else, we are stupidly optimistic. We think there’s going be some magic bullet and it’ll all be fine. But it won’t just be fine.”

A big cause of the gradual increase in average temperature has been the increase of the U.S. population, commonly known as the baby boom.

This increase in temperature has lead to the oceans taking in more heat along with th melting of the permathrost in the arctic circle which contains methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Despite this, people like Zimmerman see boomers in particular doing very little.

“Baby boomers have engineered their way past every problem they’ve had and they think they can do the same with climate change,” Zimmerman said. “We screwed the pooch and there’s way too many of us just saying ‘oh it will be fine’.”

The idea that the old generation is apathetic to changing their lifestyle means that the current generations must pick up the slack. Some, like junior Mackenna Beamer, are doing their best to not only get their home but their whole community involved with being more green.

“I would say I’m pretty active,” Beamer said. “I don’t go to every single community event, but I’m doing my best to go zero waste at home and I’m trying to get my neighborhood and just general community involved.”

Even those who are somewhat less directly involved can still see the apparent danger and failed responsibility of the previous generations, such as junior Maesi Geigle.

“It’s a little weird that we’re receiving so much blame now,” Geigle said. “A lot of it comes from older generations and they don’t really own up to that.”

It’s clear to most that action needs to be taken, but while in the past that change may have been individual, people like Zimmerman see a need for more intense action.

“It used to just be, change our light bulbs, drive a Prius, and all this other stuff,” Zimmerman said. “But now that stuff doesn’t matter. Now we need more wide scale, direct, and comprehensive action.”

Some may argue the need for more national change, though there may be varying reasons as to why. Nevertheless, Zimmerman and others see the need for change as a responsibility of leaders or else things will simply not get done.

“If our leaders would actually lead more we wouldn’t be in this mess,” Zimmerman said. “Sometimes people need to hear what they don’t want to and people in charge need to be able to step up and do that in order to spark change.”