Recently, even within the past year, we’ve seen a large increase in the number of natural disasters that have disrupted the lives of so many people. Most know that climate change is “bad” and is going to drastically affect our world eventually, but it isn’t as well broadcasted that we are already seeing its effects. Hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts are just a few of the phenomena that have become more prevalent in recent years as the temperature has risen. Scientists have started to look deeper into the causes of these events and it is a common theory that humans and our impact on climate change have been apart of why these disasters are occurring.
The wildfires in California have now demolished more than 230,000 acres. That’s right. All of that land burnt to a crisp. Throughout 2017 alone the United States spent 10 billion dollars on wildfires; and this was the amount before California went up in flames. This is the most spent on fires in U.S. history. The higher temperatures in the warm seasons and how early the snow melted last winter caused the soil to be extra dry, helping the wildfires have more suitable land to feast on. This is likely why this year’s wildfires have been so strong and widespread.
The hurricanes that swept across the Southern U.S. and Caribbean in September were global catastrophes that had everyone in a panic. Tropical cyclones (hurricanes) are predicted to grow in intensity to 11% by the end of the twenty-first century due to the rapidly changing climates. This means that you can expect to see a lot more of these powerful storms.
Of course, you are more likely to be directly affected by hurricanes if you live near the ocean, but even if you don’t you could still experience serious flooding. With the hurricanes come intense storms in areas surrounding them. As the Earth has warmed, the amount of rain and snow that were in the top 1% heaviest storms has risen 20% on average. This is three times the increase between 1958 and 2007. These storms heighten the chance of flash floods and can cause extreme amounts of damage to houses and towns and can shake up tens-of-thousands of people’s lives.
So, now that I have scared some sense into you, we can get on with the solutions. There are no definitive answers to this weather epidemic, but there are minor things you can do to help try to slow down the effects.”Mother Nature” definitely has a mind of her own, but here are a few changes you can make in your everyday life to help make a difference.
1) Be aware of your “carbon footprint”
The term “carbon footprint” is used to represent your contribution to climate change, specifically on how much fossil fuel you use. The first step to solving a problem is realizing there is one, so being aware of where you stand is a great place to start. If you are interested in calculating your footprint you can go to https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx.
2) Consider different forms of transportation
Although cars may one of the most convenient forms of transportation it would most definitely not be convenient trying to drive to work with a category five hurricane swirling around you. If you want to prevent this from happening, you should consider investing in a bicycle or even just taking a public bus. Every gallon of gas you use emits 25 pounds of “heat-trapping gases” into the atmosphere. Carpooling is always a good compromise if you are persistent about wanting to drive to a location. This is a small thing you can do that will have a huge impact on the speed of climate change.
3) Become vegetarian or eat less meat
This may seem like a hefty request to some, but one pound of beef is responsible for 18 times the amount of emissions of a pound of pasta. So, if need be, at least try to eat more fish and poultry than dark meats.
4) Reuse and recycle
Recycling plastics and paper rather than throwing them in the trash save a lot of resources that would be used to process them and take them to the landfill. Buying second-hand things such as clothes and home goods will also save the resources used to create, pack and ship brand new items.
5) Stay informed
If you stay up-to-date on all of the things going on with climate change, who knows what solutions may come to mind. Spreading the word to others who are uninformed can also be a small action that, in the long run, will greatly impact our world. If everyone puts in a bit of effort here and there, we can help preserve the planet we all call ‘home’.