by Alex Thang Nguyen – Horizon Opinion Editor
(Photo by James Kang)
Last week the weather was so beautiful that it made me, a bookworm, need to go out for bike ride to get the full effect of our little heat wave. What seemed like moments later, the temperatures plunged and Hesston was glazed in a sheet of ice. These ups and downs are not uncommon for the Midwest, but I’ve been told this has been an especially unusual spring with more snow than most Kansans had ever seen. The March snow caught me off guard, I had a chance to wear all of my sweaters, woolen gloves and heavy coats that I packed in my suitcase last year. It’s the season for sunbathing, not ice-skating.
This unpredictable weather brings the question of global warming into focus. Is this a sign that the global climate is changing? Are we headed for a doomsday scenario?
And it would be a doomsday scenario. The increase of the earth’s temperature would aggravate global poverty by triggering severe heat waves and drought, causing sea levels to rise, and devastating food supplies. This could cause an enormous worldwide hardship. Scientists say summers will be even hotter, sunnier and dryer, but with higher water levels in our oceans.
In 2006 National Geographic published an article, “Arctic Summers Ice Free by 2040, Study Predicts,” which explained that by 2040 ice will no longer exist in the Arctic during its summers, much earlier than some experts had predicted. We all know that the polar bear is an endangered species but now we can actually know when they are going to likely become extinct.
A 2004 National Geographic article by John Roach, “By 2050 Warming to Doom Million Species, Study Says,” reports on an alarming study. Examining “six biodiversity rich regions around the world” scientists came to the conclusion that climate change would wipe off more than a million species of plants and animals by 2050. Those of us who are traditional-age college students will be in our 70s at that time so there is a high possibility that we, this generation, will witness this disaster – a disaster that’s being caused and could be prevented by us.
While leaders from all the countries in the world are still looking for the economic growth model that might cut down carbon emissions, we as citizens of this world could simply keep our energy consumption and fossil fuel consumption down. Some easy tasks such as using reusable bags rather than plastic, drinking tap water instead of buying bottled and turning the light off when you leave you room are tiny steps that reduce a huge amount of carbon released into the air.
I am still not sure that there is a connection between climate change and the fact that we just got snow in April. But I’d rather be take precautions now than wait until later. If climate change keeps accelerating and displaces billions of people around the world, creates severe weather-related disaster, and widespread famines, then we have a much bigger problem than that debate. Then this era of mankind’s civilization will be written off as self-indulgent, short-sighted and tremendously destructive.