An International Crisis: Climate Change

An International Crisis: Climate Change

Kylie Richardson

One of the top issues of the world; a never-ending problem that has struck every country, in both similar and different ways. This includes the ongoing crisis of plastic pollution, food waste, and the loss of our environment’s biodiversity. Due to human impact, things are only getting worse.

Plastic pollution. Why do we need to fix this problem? Marine litter and plastic pollution are leading causes of climate change, an extraordinarily dangerous issue that most commonly and negatively impacts marine life. You can find billions of pounds of plastic circulating in the beautiful oceans of our planet. It was even calculated that plastic will outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050 if plastic pollution continues at the rates it is currently at. And why is this? Humans. The causes range from careless litterers, industrial activities, waste dumping, as well as stormwater runoff. The leading issue of plastic pollution in bodies of water is the ingestion of plastic. Animals such as sea turtles and seals commonly mistake floating plastic for their food, eating tons, which will easily kill them, as a result of internal damage or choking. Another deadly effect is entanglement. This is a direct cause of plastic pollution because “the vast majority of entanglements occur in manmade materials of which plastics are the most common.” Therefore, this directly affects climate change because of sunlight or heat. The hotter the Earth gets, the quicker the greenhouse gasses can break down plastic into “methane and ethylene, increasing the rate of climate change,” according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. As this cycle continues, it only becomes more of a global tragedy for our Earth, oceans, and marine life.

Another issue affecting climate change is food waste. Food production requires energy, water, harvesting, and labor. It also demands transportation and packing. The food that is wasted, and is sent to landfills and dumps to rot, results in increased production of methane. This is a greenhouse gas, which contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous killer, and a dangerous air pollutant. Food waste also demands the use of more natural resources such as water, energy, and land, which comes from most consumer-facing businesses that supply food to their customers. A leading explanation for food waste is overproduction in supermarkets and restaurants, improper storing, and sometimes, lack of care. Although a stretch, the only way our world can begin eliminating this problem is through better planning as a whole, coming up with different strategies to reduce overproduction, and spreading awareness to educate people on the dangers of food waste.

Finally, the loss of the world’s biodiversity is an aspect of climate change. The loss of biodiversity stems from multiple issues. The most devastating being, yet again, human impact. For example, deforestation, industrialization, illegal poaching, and damaging protected lands and habitats. Destroying ecosystems limits the natural ability for nature to limit and attempt to control greenhouse gas emissions. According to the European Commission, “[ecosystems] currently absorb roughly half of man-made carbon emissions. Biodiversity and ecosystem services help us to adapt to and mitigate climate change,” therefore, demonstrating the crucial role of diverse ecosystems and their inhabitants. Not only is climate change affected by the loss of biodiversity, but it’s a cycle. The less biodiversity, the worse climate change gets, which only leads to a decrease of global biodiversity. For example, because of environmental destruction, it becomes increasingly difficult for Earth to regulate its temperature, which inevitably causes a rise in global temperatures. The warmer the Earth gets, places such as Alaska cannot maintain proper ecosystems for the occupants, which leads to the endangerment of species even more than currently.

Plastic pollution, food waste, and loss of biodiversity are all significant contributors to almost half a century of the rising issue of climate change. And it’s all because of humans.

Carelessness, ignorance, and lack of respect for the “so-called green Earth” are damaging. It is crucial for one to do their part in making Earth cleaner and safer for its animals, plants, and humans. That means, picking up litter you see on the streets, properly disposing of your garbage, spread awareness against corporations that dump their waste in the ocean. If we want to save the Earth, we have to start step by step, and every contribution, regardless of how big or small, is a useful helping hand. We need to protect our land and protect its inhabitants. Go green!