The Slow Destruction of Our Planet


Rissa Liu

Temperatures around the Globe have been reaching record highs and lows.

Jan Krawczyk, Staff Writer

*The opinions expressed within the content are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or its affiliates.*

We need our elected officials and government members to take the climate emergency seriously. According to NASA, the primary source of climate change and global warming is the release of carbon and other greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere at alarming rates. Fortunately, we have a climate change panel that can show us how this release of fossil fuels affects us. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), our world cannot exceed a 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase above pre-industrial levels over the next few decades without extreme consequences. 

However, even if we stay within this target, humanity will still face significant disaster. For example, through inventive world action, we may reach a 1.6 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures by 2100. However, even this extremely low estimate would lead 8% of our farmland to become completely unusable and force millions of people to migrate due to their homeland being devastatingly impacted by the climate. Furthermore, these migration problems will result in more conflict within impoverished areas. Yet, despite all of these impending issues, our government officials have still not responded to the crisis with the necessary policy. 

The goal of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016, signed by 195 nations, is to keep the global temperature at no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Unfortunately,  the IPCC has made it clear that this goal is too low to mitigate extreme climate change, yet countries are still unlikely to achieve that goal with the current progress. A majority of climate scientists also agree that the lax promises made by members of the Paris Climate Agreement will result in a temperature increase of 2.6 degrees Celsius, rather than the 2 degrees Celsius that was originally agreed upon. 

Even so, most nations around the world are still reluctant to follow the minimal demands outlined by the Paris Agreement, including the U.S. As a result, we will reach 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century, according to recent estimates. This will have a devastating impact on the globe. Around 12 percent of the world’s population will be threatened by rising sea levels alone. Furthermore, natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires and floods will be much more common. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has taken $453.6 million from the fossil fuel industry and allowed them to operate with near impunity.

Today, we are already seeing the effects of climate change and the impact of increasing global temperatures through the destructive disasters ravaging our planet. Global temperatures have increased to 1.0 – 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and the problems have only been growing. 

Just a few weeks ago, Hurricane Ian destroyed several regions in Florida and Cuba, Hurricane Fiona ravaged Puerto Rico and Canada and Typhoon Noru displaced hundreds of thousands in Vietnam. These events are occurring more frequently and growing in destructiveness. Eight of the strongest 15 Atlantic hurricanes since 1851 have occurred since 2000, a clear example of human action violently impacting our climate.

So we know we need to fight climate change to save millions of lives, but why haven’t we seen drastic action from governments? The answer lies in the fact that our political leaders have been working with the fossil fuel industry. Many are directly connected to companies that release CO2. Our members of congress own $93 Million in stock of fossil fuel companies, which in itself is a massive conflict of interest. Every member of our congress has received lobbying money from the oil and gas industry in some way. 

We have a broken system where the companies with the largest amount of money can influence politics the most through lobbying. This means that the oil and gas industries, which have had an enormous market share for more than a hundred years, have a massive impact on our legislation. These same oil and gas companies are profiting off of the carbon extraction that is ruining our planet. This constant purchasing of political power is the reason why the major line of Conservatives in the U.S., such as Donald Trump and Mitch McConnel, tend to deny that climate change exists or disregard it as a serious threat. 

More importantly, however, is the fact that these massive corporations can simply choose the candidate who is most beneficial to their interests and boost their campaign until they get into a position of power.  When politicians rely on money from the fossil fuel industry to run their campaigns, they tend to support those industries after being elected. 

Another major issue is the intense media propaganda that these fossil fuel companies create to keep the public unaware of the climate crisis and the companies’ role in it. In America, these constant efforts have caused a large sector of our population to severely underestimate climate change’s destructive capacity, or even completely disregard its existence. Some networks such as Fox News still deny that global warming and climate change are occurring. This culminates in making it so only around 40% of Americans believe that climate change is primarily caused by human activity. 

One large media effort begun by the fossil fuel industry is the use of the term “carbon footprint” to describe an individual’s carbon emissions. This term was popularized by BP, which was previously named British Petroleum, in 2005 to turn attention away from the large emitting companies and onto the individual. This shift of blame dramatically impacted our understanding of climate change. Even now, popular culture pushes the idea that changing individual consumption habits can solve the climate crisis. The truth is that not only do the powerful corporations want us to believe that the climate crisis doesn’t exist, but they also benefit if our proposed “solutions” do not target them. This propagandized population will then go on to vote for politicians whose platform relies on disbelief in the climate crisis. 

There is no clear solution to all these problems. However, perverse incentives from the fossil fuel industry must be removed from our media and politics. We need to ban these industries from lobbying our government or influencing the media in any way. Unfortunately, the politicians who have the power to do this are the same ones corrupted by the industry itself. Millions of lives are on the line and billions more will be harmfully impacted by the climate crisis. This means that an extreme response is necessary. 

Some of the responses proposed by so-called “climate activists” have been far too meager to solve our crisis. Politicians have proposed things such as the Green New Deal, which would attempt to lead the U.S. towards 100% renewable energy by 2040 which would maintain us in a safe position when it comes to climate change. This policy, which has become more and more popular among the public, would help solve the climate crisis and politicians who support it need to be brought into power if we want to save our planet.