Global Warming by Sophia Ao

    Over the last four decades, it has become increasingly evident that global warming is a real and serious threat to our survival in the foreseeable future. However, many recent studies have shown that an alarming number of citizens do not believe global warming is real, and a large amount of those who do believe in it are unsure of what they can do to contribute towards the prevention of further damage to the environment.

    In this article, I will explore three key points that must be understood in order to change the current crisis: the leading causes and origins of global warming, the severity and repercussions of global warming and why this issue is being disregarded by those in positions of power and influence. Significant changes must be made swiftly, and in order for these changes to be made, these three key points must be understood by all stakeholders: every citizen.

    Since the early 19th century, evidence showing unnatural changes in the environment as a result of human activity has been recorded. As society began undergoing industrialisation in the 1850s, the chemistry of the atmosphere began altering due to the release of excess carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, and according to a study published in Nature, 93% of this heat is then transferred to oceans. The burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal has contributed the most towards increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. To a lesser extent, the clearing of land for agriculture and other human activities has also contributed to global warming. It has been conclusive that humans are the sole perpetrators in global warming due to our need and greed.

    A recent report and warning by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) has alarmed, shocked and horrified many citizens, as well as left them feeling confused and despair over the current crisis. This warning states that there are only 12 years for global warming to be kept at the maximum of 1.5C, which temperatures already are at. The UN warns that even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for citizens all over the globe. To put this into perspective, at the current temperature, coral reefs are still declining by 70-90%. If temperatures are to rise by 0.5C, all coral reefs will be lost, and sea levels would be 10cm higher. Climate change and global warming threaten our agriculture, health, water supply, infrastructure- it threatens our very existence. After we cross the 2C threshold, the changes and dangers of global warming are irreversible, and it will be the beginning of the end of civilisation and modern society as we know it.


    As humans, it is an instinct to protect ourselves and those around us. If there is no foreseeable danger, generally, we will also assist those we don’t know.
    We are not obliged to follow this protocol, yet the majority of us will do so. We help because it is an expectation of society that we each play our part and help those in need.
    Unfortunately, as a society, we are very selective as to when our humanity comes out, and it does not seem to come out very often when it concerns our planet. This leads us to the question of how our society has reached such a low point. There are two main perpetrators to blame: the corporations and leaders who keep us disconnected an unaware. In a major study conducted by The Model United Nations,
    estimated environmental combined damage of the world's largest companies was worth US$2.2 trillion which is a figure bigger than the national economies of all but seven countries in the world. It is estimated that only 100 companies are responsible for about 70% of carbon emissions, yet these 100 companies still have many customers. You probably aren't surprised to know that all of these are extremely rich and are financially thriving. Yet we still purchase from companies that are part of the problem, and as a result, we contribute to this problem.
    Most disappointing of all, our government and world leaders keep us disconnected and unaware.
    The whole point of a government and having people we elect to be in charge is because we trust these people to help us. We trust them to be responsible, and we trust them to ensure the happiness and safety of all citizens.
    It shouldn’t be left or right.
    It shouldn’t be republican or democrat.
    It shouldn’t be liberal or labour.
    In a utopia, no matter which party wins, the citizens shouldn’t be too worried because they know that all parties will keep all citizens safe for the present and future.
    Unfortunately, this is simply not true. Our most recent election in Australia was dubbed ‘the climate election’, and many citizens were concerned and upset that the Liberal party won.
    They should not feel that their futures are in jeopardy because of a single election and that their children will not have the future that so many of us have had to privilege of having- one with clean air, water and access to food.
    This should not be. We need to live in a society where each citizen feels that they have a future, regardless of whichever party wins an election.

    Which brings us to my resolution.
    We can no longer sit behind, do nothing and tolerate our corporations and our government ignoring our problems. We demand change, transparency and accountability from our world leaders, our government and politicians.
    It has become clear that the environmental crisis we face right now is the direct result of not enough awareness and our corporations and governments keeping us disconnected from reality and greed.
    As general citizens, we quite simply do not have as much power as a world leader. However, we have strength in numbers.
    It is not by chance or coincidence that makeup brands such as Maybelline are cruelty-free. It is not by chance or coincidence that Ben and Jerry's have released a new vegan ice cream. It is not by chance that McDonald's is now converting from plastic to paper straws.
    When there is consumer demand for a product, corporations and organizations must give a supply for this demand, or risk losing business or reputation.
    Currently, around the world, many young people are making a difference by joining the School Strike for Climate movement, which is an international movement in which on organised days, students and other young people strike from school to tell our politicians to take our futures
    seriously and treat climate change for what it is - a crisis.
    A couple of weeks ago, I attended this strike for the first time and I was shocked by the results afterwards of what was simply some school students marching and shouting. As a direct result of the strikes last term, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition has been able to delay the building of the Adani mine by possibly years and these strikes have allowed certain board members to create important connections with the union, which will likely lead to important discussions on Australia and our use of coal.

    Regardless of whether you believe the science, you too can see that there is an environmental crisis unfolding in front of you. You too can see the extreme weather, the statistics and the endangered and extinct species lists growing. For any of us to have a future, we need to do something. I urge all of you, to make both small and large changes in your lives and actions. It can be anything from taking a shorter shower to joining an enviro committee or attending the next school strike.
    For this crisis to be averted, we must all make conscious changes in our lives. Whether you are an owner of an oil company or a student, please remember that no one has anything to gain from global warming.
    Our home is on fire and we must all step up and start acting like it.

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