Letter to the Editor: Climate change issue heats up

Sarah Mlnarik

Though it feels as if we celebrated the beginning of 2017 just yesterday, February is already upon us, which means Groundhog Day is too. Each year, we wait to hear the report on whether or not spring will come early or if there will be another six weeks of winter based on the ever-famous groundhog spotting his shadow.

However, this year, regardless of a shadow forecasting what is to come, I urge people to take a second to really think about the record-breaking year we just finished and the strangely warm January most of us have enjoyed. Though us Ohioans may think it has been a blessing not to be snowed in this winter, there is a bigger picture to look at: climate change.

Climate change is real, and is slowly causing harm and danger to our environmental health. Today, the amount of carbon dioxide is higher than it has ever been, and the United States is a big contributor to the problem. In fact, the U.S. is the second largest contributor to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

You might be thinking, “So what? What’s wrong with increasing temperatures?”

I have to tell you that yes, I have enjoyed the warm days as well, but warmer temperatures are negatively impacting places around the globe that require our attention.

For example, Glacier National Park was home to 150 glaciers in 1910, but as of 2016 there are only 25 that have not melted away.

Also, with the rise in temperature, 25 to 35 percent of plant and animal species are at an increased risk of extinction. The world’s coral reefs are also dying off, as 38 percent — or 4,630 square miles — of the reef is expected to be killed, per the National Wildlife Federation. But that’s not all: Climate change also harms the water supply, can increase vector-borne diseases and heighten the risk of extreme weather events.

I write to you today to spread awareness. Climate change is an environmental health concern that needs to be brought to the forefront of health advocacy. The more people who are educated on this issue, the better the chances are for improving the safety and well-being of the people.

Sarah Mlnarik is a guest columnist, contact her at [email protected].