Humans are pumping Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate much greater than nature ever could. As a result, our planet’s average temperature has risen almost 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the middle of the 19th century (climate.nasa.gov). This may not seem like much of a shift, but the temperature increase is equivalent to nearly 375,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs going off around Earth every single day. We should all be concerned about how burning fossil fuels is altering our planet.
We have already begun to witness the increase in the ferocity of storms and droughts in America. If this trend continues then future generations will find themselves in a world where the polar ice sheets melt rendering coastal cities uninhabitable. The receding coasts will cause mass migrations that will lead to war and chaos over essential human necessities. Generations could pass before the oceans rise to permanently flood coastal cities, but extreme droughts could lead to the collapse of agriculture much sooner.
I believe people have the capability to reverse the harmful course of burning fossil fuels, but it will be one of the greatest challenges to America’s capitalistic society. Historians debate about the birth of capitalism, but the most compelling argument to me is that capitalism was born with the advent of the steam engine in England at the end of the 17th century. Capitalism’s beginnings are linked directly to the harnessing of energy released by igniting fossil fuels. Finding alternative energy sources will challenge our view of advancement over the past few centuries. This is what makes the mission of altering our energy infrastructure and the way we transport ourselves that much more daunting.
Our warming planet is a perfect example of how pragmatism and hoping for a GOP that will be less extreme is failing us. Dealing with global warming will necessitate a mobilization greater than we saw during World War II. It will take innovative scientific thought, and leaders in the United States to stand up to the fossil fuel industry to save our planet. Today, we have a President who claims the eastern United states needs some “good old global warming”, we have politicians who contradict nearly 97% of scientific community on global warming, and the United States has removed itself from the Paris Climate Accord. America is officially not leading the world on climate change. In fact, Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, has awarded millions of Euros in grants for US climate scientists to relocate to France to continue their research because he is committed to “making our planet great again”.
The question we all must ask is, has America lost so much of its humanity that we value today’s profits over the lives of future generations? Has the country that first put a man on the moon become a nation without vision beyond the next election cycle? Have we become so complacent that the focus on forming rhetoric around polling is more important than substantive action? I hate the politics of fear, but it is time to start acting on global warming before it’s too late. It’s time for meaningful policy to be created and presented to both Congress and the American people. If some politicians choose to not hear such legislation because of their campaign financiers then allow them to fall on their sword in the future. America must be on the forefront of altering the way we produce energy. The time is now.