Every day should be earth day
An insight into global warming and the importance of earth day
Climate change is a phenomenon many are taught in school as part of the science or geography curriculums and although knowledge and conscientiousness of the causes of this phenomenon are important, it's hard to pass these teachings beyond the classroom scenario into action. That has to change. People are aware of the issue but remain detached from it in a personal level, often developing the view that the issue is far ahead of our time; something only future generations will have to solve. Even worse, most people consider this knowledge as almost trivial in nature- simply textbook information to be acquired to pass tests. In the spirit of earth day, it is of the essence for all of us to step back from these notions and start viewing the situation in a more practical and immediate manner; how its detrimental effects are impacting all of us at this very moment.
Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. The first Earth Day gave voice to the emerging consciousness of the population with regards to the environment, channelling the energy of anti-war protest movements and putting environmental concerns on the front page. Gaylord Nelson, a US senator, was the "founder" of earth day. Nelson was inspired by the student anti-war movement and realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. This day (April 22nd) was specifically chosen as it was between spring break and final exams. Earth Day was meant for students and activists just like us! The purpose of this day is to raise awareness for a better appreciation of the earth and to encourage practices to prevent global warming and other negative environmental human-caused impacts. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. But what are the consequences of these environmental effects, why should we worry about them and how do they impact us?
Recently, the heat wave that hit California has been all over the news. What some have called "the earth-scorching heat" caused temperatures to sore above 100 degrees in some areas. With the temperatures rising in the region, higher spring and summer temperatures, and earlier spring snow-melt, forests are now hotter and drier for longer periods of time, creating optimal conditions for more wildfires to ignite and spread. California has also been victim, in 2011 and 2016, to its worst recorded drought period in history. There is a growing risk of a "megadrought" - a prolonged drought lasting two years or longer. Furthermore, this is increasing the pressure on groundwater supplies as more water needs to be pumped to meet the demands of the population all the while, less rain falls to replenish the reserves.
California is not the only place suffering from these water issues; Mexico, for instance, is in the midst of a huge water crisis. Mexico's chief resilience officer, Arnoldo Kramer, stated in a New York Time's interview that “Climate change has become the biggest long-term threat to Mexico city’s future. And that’s because it is linked to water, health, air pollution, traffic disruption from floods, housing vulnerability to landslides- which means we can’t begin to address any of the city’s real problems without facing the climate issue.” It is predicted that by the end of this century, northern Mexico could see its average annual temperatures rise by 3-4 degrees Celsius and the rest of the country could see temperatures climb by 1.5 – 2.5 degrees. It might not seem like a big deal but a 1-degree difference is equivalent to the difference between water and ice. At the moment, 40% of all the water in Mexico city is reached by pumping it from groundwater level supplies or from other remote sources. Mexico City keeps drilling deeper for more, weakening the ancient clay lake beds on which the Aztecs first built much of the city, causing it to crumble even further, and as a result, the city is literally sinking. According to the New York Times, "the rear of the National Palace now tilts over the sidewalk like a sea captain leaning into a strong headwind. Buildings here can resemble Cubist drawings, with slanting windows, wavy cornices and doors that no longer align with their frames". Below is an image that illustrates these inconsistencies in buildings:
In Brazil, the situation has also become apparent with the extreme rains in Rio de Janeiro that have caused over 10 deaths. Heavy rains in the city are common during spring and summer but at the moment the country is in Autumn and the rains are stronger than ever. These rains have been described by the mayor to be "absolutely abnormal". One very shocking case was of a woman and her 7-year-old granddaughter who were buried in a mudslide as they rode in a taxi, and the driver’s body was also found inside the vehicle. The situation was so dire that the mayor’s office declared a state of emergency; major roads were closed, and the mayor’s office said 785 places were without power. Floods in São Paulo have also increased greatly and in this month 30 people have been killed due to them. According to the environmentalist Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Observatory of the Climate, events "are becoming more frequent and more intense". BBC has stated that this event cannot be interpreted as an isolated occurrence. Around the whole world, extreme weather patterns have increased, not only concerning rains in Rio and the fires in California, but the other events like the Idai cyclone in Africa and the extreme winters in the Northern United States.
As can be seen through these examples, climate change is not some distant phenomenon that at the moment is only endangering the ecosystem and lives of polar bears (although the survival of the species is also concerning), as many would like to believe. Climate change is real and poses a threat to life as we know it. There’s much more at stake than the wellbeing of just these countries that were pointed out above. These deaths, damages to infrastructure and lack of water will continue and increase as the temperature continues to rise. As the New York Times eloquently put it: "At the extreme, if climate change wreaks havoc on the social and economic fabric of major global cities like Mexico City, no amount of walls, guns, barbed wire, armed aerial drones or permanently deployed mercenaries will be able to save one half of the planet from the other.”