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Mukta Kantak

Posted on June 10, 2022 at 2:19 pm

Mukta Kantak

In less than 10 years, our world may never be the same as it is today. Anthropogenic climate change, which causes rising temperatures all across the globe, results in issues such as increased droughts, rising sea levels, more intense and frequent storms, heat waves, melting glaciers, and species extinctions. It occurs due to human activities releasing gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which prevent solar heat from escaping back into space. Instead, in a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect, these gases trap heat on and near Earth’s surface, making our whole planet hotter. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2020 report, “the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit ( 0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase since 1981 (0.18°C / 0.32°F) has been more than twice that rate” (NOAA). In other words, although the Earth’s temperature fluctuates naturally, recent years have seen a much higher increase in temperature per decade. To combat this problem that could render the Earth uninhabitable, we all must collaborate to come up with innovative solutions, educate and raise awareness within our communities, and advocate for change on the national, state, and individual levels. In today’s day and age, the younger generations play a unique, important role in saving our planet: younger people often take more initiative, since they are victims of it. For this reason, it is crucial that every young person takes the initiative to get involved against climate change and to contribute to their distant future.

On a local, state and national level, our society is rife with climate change advocacy opportunities for young people to get involved in. Delaware has passed several bills, including the recent Delaware Climate Change Solutions Act (2022) and the Delaware Climate Action Plan (2021), which both address cutting down greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, Senate Bills 2 and 21 involve amendments to Delaware codes that address renewable energy and electric vehicles, respectively. On the national level, the Climate Education Act and the Clean Electricity Performance Program focus on raising awareness and shifting to clean energy sources, respectively. The recent Climate Emergency Act declares a national emergency relating to climate change, allowing the federal government to focus on reducing emissions and promoting infrastructure projects to mitigate climate change. Finally, international attempts to take action against climate change have been set in place, but ultimately go unfollowed. In fact, the Kyoto Protocol, which commits its 84 signatories to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. Although legislation regarding climate change has been passed for decades, this is not nearly enough to cause significant change. In 2021, only approximately 20% of the country’s generated energy was renewable, and only approximately 12% of electricity consumed in the U.S. was from renewable sources. The state of Delaware has no nuclear power plants, which could generate immense amounts of clean energy for citizens to use, and over 90% of Delaware’s energy comes from natural gas (EIA). In order to solve the problems of greenhouse gases, global warming, and climate change, we must advocate for our government to pass more legislation that encourages alternative energy sources, since the processes of fracking and natural gas combustion produce the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (EPA). Furthermore, we can advocate for the regulation of mobile sources, such as vehicles, and point-source facilities such as factories and power plants, since they release many pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and into our communities. Lastly, waste management is just as important to eradicating anthropogenic climate change: advocating for more effective recycling programs, as well as denouncing and discouraging single-use plastics and fast fashion, leads to less pollutants in our oceans, landfills, and atmosphere. Generating less waste results in less anaerobic breakdown, which means landfills, marine dumps, and waste processing facilities release less methane into our atmosphere.

Advocacy holds perhaps the most importance in solving the climate crisis, since it urges companies and lawmakers to have accountability and take action, which has direct impacts. However, raising awareness within our communities and educating ourselves on our world enables us to advocate in the first place. Climate change requires active societal change: in order to facilitate societal change that allows us to mitigate anthropogenic climate change, we must first educate our communities on its global impacts, especially low-income, underprivileged, and minority communities. Community workshops, social media, and newspaper or magazine publications can all provide numerous opportunities to appeal to our communities and inspire people to get involved. In addition, addressing climate change in schools, through environmentally-oriented curricula, allows us to effectively educate younger generations as well and inspire everyone to take action. We should also raise awareness about companies that produce goods, urging people to boycott unethical products and influencing companies to “go green” and mitigate their negative environmental impacts using pressure from buyers. After educating themselves on different companies and their stances on global warming, people may be more inspired to advocate for better legislation that holds companies accountable for their actions. In addition, raising awareness about the state of Delaware’s environmental programs and issues inspires more change, such as advocating for more public transportation and infrastructure. On the individual level, staying educated on climate change and environmental issues is imperative. We should also teach our communities to stay updated, consume correct, relevant information from reliable sources, and make informed decisions. Research also plays an important role in mitigating human-caused climate change: the state and federal governments should encourage scientists to research and monitor our planet, so we can stay fully informed and make logical decisions on our next course of action.

Lastly, we can fight climate change through our own individual actions. In addition to making our voices heard by our local, state, and federal governments, and educating our communities, the youth also have the ability to inspire change in smaller ways. The little details are important, too: eating less meat and dairy, cutting personal car use and flying time, reducing energy use, recycling, reducing consumption and waste, and using more efficient electric appliances can cause monumental changes against climate change if many people commit to them. Small behavioral and societal changes involving more eco-friendly actions can inspire a change in mindset, causing more significant change in later years.

In less than 10 years, our world may never be the same as it is today, but if we can all do our part to mitigate climate change, we may be able to change our planet’s destiny. As a young person, I feel obligated to do my part and inspire others to do theirs, since climate change impacts youth the most. If everyone not only demands action and spreads awareness about the climate change crisis, but also takes individual action to solve the issue, we may be able to reverse our bleak future. My message is as follows: although many underestimate the younger generation, we are contributors and activists. We have a significant role in fighting climate change, because we have access to quality resources and can inspire change within our communities and schools. Plus, we all have personal ties to the issue, since it affects every single one of us. We should all do our part, stay educated, and advocate for a better future for everyone. 

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