Climate Change: A Problem of Today

Ethan Reiser, Colgate Sustainability Intern

Climate change is an inescapable reality, and one that will affect our planet and our future for years to come. Recently, the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, titled, “Chapter 3: Impacts of 1.5C global warming on natural and human systems,” has been released. It discusses some of the effects that climate change will have on certain regions, as well as other related topics such as food security. One of the topics discussed is hurricanes, and how an increase in global temperature will affect their frequency and strength.

The report says, “consistent with the majority of studies performed for higher degrees of global warming, the total number of tropical cyclones is projected to decrease under global warming, whilst the most intense (category four and five) cyclones are projected to occur more frequently. These very intense storms are projected to be associated with higher peak wind speeds and lower central pressures 29 under 2°C versus 1.5°C of global warming.”

The most relevant aspect is the prediction of an increase in the “most intense storms.” As if to support this prediction, Mother Nature responded with Hurricane Michael, a Category four storm that slammed into the Florida Panhandle earlier this month. According to The Northwest Florida Daily News, the storm had a death toll of 39 across Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina, and it only continues to increase. This is especially frighten- ing because it appears that we are seeing the consequences of climate change manifest in the present, and it is no longer a problem that only future generations will have to face. This hurricane is truly an awful one, and storms such as these may only get worse if we do not reverse the effects of climate change.

This hurricane, however, is only one example of the disastrous predictions of which the report warns of, as it also predicts that the planet will surpass the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius as early as 2030. According to CNN, this increase would heighten the risks of extreme drought, wildfires, food shortages and other extreme events that could reshape the direction of the world. In order to stave off these changes, we must be more diligent in our fight against climate change. While each individual person is able to make a difference, the majority of the problem lies in large companies and corporations. The Carbon Majors Database report from 2017 states that only 224 companies produce nearly 72 percent of all the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing our planet’s warming according to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). These companies are clearly a large part of the problem, and that things need to change.

Changing the minds and plans of important and powerful businesses is not an easy task, but it is one that we must undertake. As noted above, if nothing is changed then climate change could have a drastic effect on the planet as soon as 2030. This is well within our lifetimes, and therefore the burden of change falls to us. We must take better care of the planet so that future generations can enjoy it the same way that we have. To quote Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax,” “Unless someone like you does a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Contact Ethan Reiser at [email protected]