Guest Column: Environmental sensitivity 101

Earth: The third planet from the sun. Filled with an abundance of life and covered by vast oceans. Also known as our home.

However, she is in danger, and we are at fault.

Climate change is real; it is happening all around us, every day. Have you noticed a difference in the weather patterns? Intense droughts in California, torrential downpours and flooding in Texas and even bitterly cold winters in the northeast are becoming the new normal.

The cause? Humans.

Because of our excessive use of fossil fuels, we can expect further deterioration of our planet. Our home. Over the past century, the average temperature of the Earth has risen by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over the next hundred years, the temperature is expected to rise an additional 0.5 to 8.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The change may seem nominal, but it is extremely significant. This means that not only would the atmospheric temperature increase, but the water temperature would also increase.

This combination would facilitate the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice and glaciers. This melting is expected to cause the sea level to rise dramatically and continuously—potentially flooding many important cities around the globe.

Because of our mass deforestation, we’re losing a vital part of our world. Rainforests serve as “regulators” for Earth’s atmosphere, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and providing us with oxygen.

Without them, the greenhouse effect will become stronger, furthering the effects of climate change. Not only that, we are also destroying various forms of life within these forests.

Instead of simply “expecting” these things to happen, there are actions we can take to try to prevent them from happening. We have been taught to “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” since we were children. It’s time for us to actually follow these simple steps.

Reducing our emissions by switching to more environmentally-sensitive forms of energy can prevent the greenhouse effect from becoming worse—thus preserving our atmosphere and the ice in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Reducing the amount of unnecessary purchases is also a way to help. Buying reusable shopping bags, water bottles and lunch bags are just a few examples of items that can reduce waste.

Reusing materials can help eliminate non-biodegradable materials from our landfills. These materials in the landfills emit Methane gas, one of the most powerful greenhouse gasses. Instead of throwing things away, we can also think of ways to repurpose objects. There are numerous videos and articles with ways to convert “trash” into treasure.

Finally, recycling is probably the easiest thing that we can do that could have a massive impact. Instead of tossing that empty water bottle in the trash, find a recycling bin.

In addition, recycling paper allows us to reduce the need to harvest trees for new paper, thus limiting the need to decimate the rainforests further.

The simplest steps can make a huge difference. Like  Robert F. Kennedy once said: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” 

It’s time we stand up for our beautiful planet and change it for the better. If we’re all conscious of these simple steps in our everyday lives, our “tiny ripples of hope” will turn into waves of change and improvement.

Sarah Hines and Kaitlyn Boniecki are guest columnists for The Kent Stater.