Taking Action? The 2019 Climate Summit

3 mins read

By Jayla Stack ’21

Climate Change is a complex problem. Global warming caused by climate change has been a frequent topic of discussion recently. The UN Climate Conference, held from September 21st to 23rd 2019, was an attempt to create concrete goals to fight climate change within the major nations that attended. However, the oaths made did not impress many climate activists, including 16-year-old Swedish activist and the face of climate change Greta Thunberg. 

The Gunnery’s Environmental Science Teacher, Mr. Lovejoy, says that “anthropogenic climate change can be tied to the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.” In 2017, The US Environmental Protection Agency found that industry work contributed 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, electricity contributed 28%, and transportation contributed 29%. Since these activities are the main cause of anthropogenic climate change, for reform to happen, big changes will have to take place among industries and world leaders.  

But what can be done to combat climate change? David Attenborough, the voice of the BBC’s Planet Earth says, “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Graph of Carbon Dioxide levels over the years
via NASA

However, at the UN Climate Conference, the vows made by major leaders and countries fell short of the expectations of many advocates and diplomats. Among these countries were America and China, which make up about 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

China made no new promises to greatly reduce its emissions, and according to The New York Times, the U.S. “said nothing at all.” While the Trump Administration seems to be uninterested in climate control, American students are extremely concerned about the current and future effects of climate change. 

Unsurprisingly, students are the biggest advocates for climate change; this crisis will majorly affect their future. On Friday, September 20th 2019, students led by Greta Thunberg demonstrated their concerns in the Youth Climate Strikes.

The New York Times says that teenage climate activists “mobilized some 4 million people across 160 countries during the global climate strikes”. In DC groups such as Extinction Rebellion, and 350 Life blocked the streets of Washington DC in an act of climate protest. At the Youth Climate Conference Greta Thunberg said, “Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it, because it doesn’t lead to anything.” Young activists clearly want change, but the people in charge are not acting the same amount of urgency as the younger generations.

What Is Climate Change?

According to environmental science teacher Mr. Lovejoy, anthropogenic climate change is the change in global temperatures that is caused by human activity. Mr. Lovejoy says, “climate on Earth has changed constantly throughout history, long before humans emerged…[but] the most essential and dangerous difference between modern anthropogenic climate change and past climate shifts is the pace of the change.” 

This rapid change in pace, Mr. Lovejoy states, is almost impossible for most life on earth to adapt to. Every year, the increase in global temperatures has caused a multitude of natural disasters. According to Vice News, within the past decade, global warming has caused tides to rise, mass migrations, famines, droughts, floods, and wildfires. Natural disasters like this will continue to occur increasingly if a change is not made.

Climate Change At The Gunnery

The Gunnery community is a small ecosystem. While students can’t directly change the level of importance global leaders have placed on climate change, we certainly can make changes in our individual communities. So, how can we control our carbon footprint here at the Gunnery?

We have already placed a greater emphasis on recycling in past years, but there are more changes to be made. Gwendolyn Brown ‘20, the President of Green Club says, “I think just as a Gunnery student, being a little more mindful would make a huge difference…because we are the generation that is going to be affected.” Gwen suggests cutting down on energy consumption and using reusable water bottles as a way of being mindful every day. Gwen also says, “the Gunnery could consume less beef and pork.”

Climate change is a real problem, and it seems like the younger generations will be left to fix what has been set up for us. So what can we do to further combat climate change and secure a future with a healthy and habitable planet for ourselves?

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