By Kali Nelson
Let’s take a moment to think about all the problems the US is facing today. We have wildfires consuming the Pacific Northwest, Montana, and California. Hurricane Harvey is flooding Texas and Hurricane Irma nearing Florida. The whole country either needs water or it has too much, and that’s only in the US. Here in Moscow, where I live, there’s so much smoke in the air that we are now at a hazardous air quality. The world has become a gray haze outside my windows. I can’t enjoy the breeze at night or else I risk waking up in a cloud of smoke and hurting my cat’s lungs.
I can’t help but wonder if we need to take a step back and think about the impact we have on our planet. Maybe we need to have a serious and grown up conversation about climate change.
I will admit, I am no expert in the climate, but I have a genuine interest in learning. I am trying to navigate this world with all its fake news to try and find the truth.
First let’s look at the facts. On the NASA website it states that the climate does in fact go through cycles. The problem with the cycle now is that it is warming faster and has a 95% probability of being human caused. Scientist have found Earth’s surface temperatures have risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit total since the late 19th century. This may not seem like a lot but let’s think about this from an ecologist standpoint. Some species need a certain temperature range to live. If the temperature rises to much, then these species may not be able to find a place to live. A real-life example of this is frog species in South America. The rising temperatures caused an increase in diseases that can kill the frogs. The rising temperatures also cause some parts of the planet to become too hot to be livable. This causes people to leave certain areas and then causes other areas to become crowded.
Rising temperatures also stress farmland. An example of this is coffee. The higher temperatures and longer droughts are having negative impacts on the coffee supply. Coffee is a very climate adaptive plant. It does not handle change well. Rising temperatures also give way to a large area for diseases to spread.
Then there are the oceans, which are absorbing some of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide released in a year. This process is ocean acidification. It leads to events like the mass bleaching of coral reefs. Bleaching is when the water becomes too hot for the coral which leads to the coral becoming stressed. If there is enough stress, the coral dies. There is an excellent documentary out on Netflix about this called Chasing Coral. This on its own is a sad thing, but coral reefs are home to many animals, as we learned in Finding Nemo.
While thre are many negative impacts of climate change, I also want to focus on some of the good. I want to take some time to look at what we can do about climate change and what people are already doing.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a few tips for anyone who wants to help.
Invest in energy efficient appliances
choose renewable energy if possible
use LED bulbs
unplug electronics when not in use
try to reduce your carbon footprint.
Ways to reduce your carbon footprint are:
try walking/ riding a bike to work or school when you can
drive a low carbon vehicle
fly as little as you can
eat more local fruits and veggies
cut your meat consumption if you can
These tips aren’t going to work for everyone, but take what you can do and do it. If everyone does a little we can do a lot. Everyone needs to research this themselves and they need to decide for themselves what they can do. If you find that you already fly as little as you can and you turn off lights and unplug electronics good job! But maybe you find that you can contact your governmental representatives about this. Even small actions are still actions that can play a part in helping fight climate change.
But Kali you may be thinking, what does this have to do with feminism? It does, let me get there. The changing climate affects everyone on this planet. But in some areas, it disproportionally affects women. The rising sea levels can cover valuable farmland and ruin wells. Ocean acidification can lead to fish species dying, these fish could be a food source for many people, which burdens women to find new food sources. Climate change is a feminist issue because it negatively impacts women.