The Global Crisis
Our climate is in crisis. For more than 200 years, human beings have been burning fossil fuels and dumping carbon dioxide and other planet-heating gases into our atmosphere. Greenhouse gases have now reached double pre-industrial levels — levels that have not been seen for tens of thousands of years. The result has been rapidly rising global temperatures and spreading climate chaos in our world.
The greenhouse effect is the biggest cause of global warming, showing how the gasses that we release from modern processes translate to a warming atmosphere. At normal levels, carbon dioxide emitted is reabsorbed by Earth’s natural carbon sinks: forests and the ocean. However, as factories, vehicles, and agriculture emit greenhouse gasses like CO2 and methane, these gasses build up in our atmosphere, trapping heat that would otherwise escape into space. Evidence for this includes direct temperature measurements, shrinking ice sheets, and changing animal migration patterns. The science is clear; climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is happening right now.
This buildup of heat has cascading effects that reach every corner of the planet. Melting glaciers and polar ice will raise sea levels, flooding coastal areas and rendering some cities unable to support their populations. Rising temperatures will shift precipitation patterns, causing floods in some areas and droughts in others, wreaking havoc on agriculture worldwide. Deadly heat waves and natural disasters will increase in frequency and severity, and wildfires are already raging from Australia to California. Wildlife populations have dropped by two thirds in the last 50 years, as climate change and habit loss push species to the brink.
Climate change won’t affect all countries equally. Due to history, infrastructure, agriculture, and geography, developing countries face a greater threat from global warming and have more difficulty funding mitigation efforts. The same is true within our own country. Polluting industrial sites are more likely to be placed near disadvantaged neighborhoods, decreasing these areas’ air quality. Climate injustice unfolds at both large and small scales, and any solution to climate change must take equity into account.
Humans may be the cause of climate change, but we are also the solution. If we want to protect future generations around the world, we must act now to prevent environmental catastrophe. Click the button below to read about the issues climate change will pose to New Jersey and the region around Montclair. Or, click to learn about the environmental impacts of specific sectors and actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.