Our Earth Is Dying

Harper Frye, Staff Writer

What everyone has been silently avoiding is slowly dawning on us. The vast change in our average temperature has been taking the lives of thousands of animal and plant species, and threatening human lives as well. Senior Maya Mandyam says, “There is such a big problem in this world with climate change that humans have caused, but humans, or a lot of people, don’t want to do anything about it.” 

There are thousands of species that are nearing extinction. Endangered Earth calculates that there are currently “41,415 species on the IUCN Red List, and 16,306 of them are threatened with extinction.” This includes not only animal species but plant species as well. However this problem did not just arise. WWF has found that “climate change is already having a significant impact on wild animals around the globe. Changes in climate are altering the timing of life cycles, causing species to shift where they live, and in some cases even leading to extinction.” Senior Joshua Marucheck says, “I think it’s concerning that living creatures… have spent a really really long time at the temperature that the Earth is currently at, and I don’t know that they could evolve to match the speed at which the Earth’s temperature is increasing.” These consequential changes in temperature affect animal species differently than humans. A sudden rise or fall in temperature can put their whole life at risk. If the temperature rises too much, sea turtles’ eggs will be disrupted, resulting in the change of the hatchling’ genders. The rise in temperature causes there to be more female than male offspring. Polar bears’ lives are also threatened. The increase in temperature is resulting in the melting of polar ice. This leaves polar bears with no place to hunt and they have to increase their migration just to stay alive. If this keeps up both these animals will be extinct in their near future. Climate and Weather warns that “unless greenhouse gas emissions are severely reduced, climate change could cause a quarter of land animals, birdlife and plants to become extinct.”

Even though the phrase “climate change” and “global warming” is used a lot, not everyone knows what it fully entails. Most have heard it discussed in our homes, debated in politics, written about almost everywhere, even analyzed in the news, but some still do not comprehend the urgency of this matter. To put climate change simply, the Earth is getting hotter and humans are the ones to blame. Unfortunately, it is not that manageable. Our Earth’s temperatures started rising in the late 19th century. There is a significant difference between it going from 46 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 79 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, in Washington. What scientists are really worried about is the increase in the average temperature. Earth’s average temperature is currently 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit. What is causing this increase in temperature? Humans. Companies burn hydrocarbons including coal, fuel oil, and natural gas that have formed from the remains of dead animals and plants. These hydrocarbons are also known as fossil fuels. Burning these fossil fuels is currently creating the biggest emission of carbon dioxide, a harmful gas, into our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap heat in a big “bubble” around Earth, preventing this added heat from leaving our atmosphere, into space. This is how our Earth’s average temperature is increasing. Sophomore Jordyn Hirsch says, “I think it’s extremely important because we are getting to this point where there are irreversible effects.”

There are many other ways humans create carbon dioxide, besides burning fossil fuels. Cows are another huge factor. They produce another greenhouse gas known as methane. Environmental Defense Fund says that “if methane leaks into the air before being used – from a leaky pipe, for instance – it absorbs the sun’s heat, warming the atmosphere.”  

Sadly, politics and many people in our government know the harm that climate change will bring to our home, yet they choose to let this huge problem sit there, waiting to be solved. We have 7.7 billion people living on this earth, many driving cars around, taking long showers, and drilling into the ground for oil. What if instead of 7.7 billion people hurting our Earth, there were 7.7 billion people working to save it? We simply have to put our heads together and think of ways to keep this planet from dying. NASA has found that “the planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.” This means we are running out of time.

Freshman Grace Kim says, “People should start talking about it more and try to find a solution for it.” If you are interested and would like to help, please visit WWF. You can read more about climate change and what they are doing specifically to help animals in need. Remember, this does not just affect the animals and plants, this affects humans, too. And we are running out of time as it is, Junior Abby May says, “The forest fires and all the natural disasters that have been happening lately, that’s pretty alarming.” As a world we need to act now, before it is too late.