A cold lad. Image courtesy of VectorStock.com

So, about this weather…

February 20, 2019

It’s cold. Sorry, did I say cold? I meant: we are currently existing in a frozen wasteland that brings new meaning to the expression, “When hell freezes over”. Our complaints about Chicago’s quick trip to the North Pole are fairly well justified, but we tend to forget that there is a root cause behind our insane weather, and America as a whole loves to ignore it.

This is not an article arguing that climate change is affecting the world. We don’t really need to argue about that one. It’s just kind of… true. This is about how we, as students, as citizens, but most importantly as people, don’t care.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group created by the United Nations to examine the effects of humans on the global climate, issued a startling report in October of 2018. To give just a taste of the projected chaos, predicted to occur from around 2040 to 2100: “Approximately 4%… of the global terrestrial land area is projected to undergo a transformation of ecosystems from one type to another at 1°C of global warming… Risks from some vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, are projected to increase with warming from 1.5°C to 2°C… Any increase in global warming is projected to affect human health, with primarily negative consequences”. Basically, bad stuff.

This report, as previously stated, was released in October. Less than four months ago. And yet after the initial shock of teens at having to weather midlife crises while also having to weather weather that has “primarily negative consequences” for humanity, that report was forgotten. The most I have seen anyone do for the environment in recent memory is make the Herculean effort to use metal straws instead of plastic ones. Brava.

This is not to say that some among us stand as eco-warriors, elites above the soon-to-be-drowning bystanders. We are all at fault, myself included. I have done no more than recycle (occasionally), and attempt to take shorter showers (a failed endeavor). It’s not that I’m unafraid of the impending demise of humanity due to our own apathy, because I truly am. But it just seems so far off. What even is the year 2040? Sounds fake.

And yet we can’t afford to keep standing idly by. This month proves that. Three days of school canceled because of weather that defies the imagination. And don’t give me that classic line of, “But it’s COLD! How can the globe be WARMING!” That is a dumb argument. Climate change scientists have been predicting this effect for years due to changes in the polar vortex caused by humanity-related shifts in the climate. I apologize for belaboring the point, but I’m HEATED. Just like the planet.

Anyways, I digress to my point. Which was… Oh RIGHT. We are teens, yes. And we have no independence or money, yes. But we do have initiative and drive. We just helped like an egg 50 million times. Not every generation can claim as much. So surely, there must be something we can do.

So I ask you, Gen Z-er to Gen Z-er, to act. Call your legislators and ask what they’re doing to mitigate America’s effect on the climate. When you come of age, vote those who refuse to make a stand out of office. You can air-condition less and carpool more. It seems daunting, I know. But unless each one of us makes a genuine, prolonged effort to save our planet, and actually keeps this issue at the forefront of our minds, we’ll have a lot more to worry about than having to take short showers.

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