by Cadence Gutman, staff writer
MAY 2022 — Climate and environmental scientists are saying, “It’s now or never,” in response to the most recent climate change report, published April 4. The report, released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), indicated that a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is necessary by 2025 to avoid catastrophic climate effects by the year 2100.
After the release of the most recent 3,000 page climate change report, scientists of the group The Scientist Rebellion started a worldwide protest in more than 25 major countries.
During this protest, Dr. Peter Kalmus and three other members of the Scientist Rebellion group chained themselves to the outside of the JPMorgan Chase building. Since 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co, a multinational, financial services and investment banking company, directly poured slightly more than a quarter of a trillion dollars into fossil fuels.
In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, Klamus stated, “We are currently heading directly towards civilizational collapse.” He continued, “We need to switch into climate emergency mode as a society.”
Kelsea Cooper, a senior at Bio-Med, said that while she thinks the protests are justified, she believes there may be other ways to get the point across. “I don’t know if that method is going to make those people understand, because when it comes down to it, they don’t have an open mind about it. They’re set in their ways,” she said.
Freshman Zachary Phillips, doesn’t feel the issue is as serious as Cooper does. “Personally, it [climate change] doesn’t affect me directly or the people around me. I think people make it out to be a bigger deal than it is. Like it still matters, but it’s not like ‘world ending’,” he explained.
Sophie Wiley, a freshman who had been involved in environmental activism, responded to the reports from the recent protest: “I can get wanting to keep business clean and tidy like the bank, but if they are peacefully protesting, it is within their rights,” she said. “People with power can make laws and be a voice to help ignorant people understand what they can do, and people with money have supplies to create sustainable living innovations.”
“I think that change is possible, but sadly unlikely. Our politicians don’t care to use their power to actually make a change,” Wiley continued. “Not just politicians, but too many people want to put the responsibility onto someone else.”
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, human activities are almost completely responsible for the overall increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere within the last 150 years. The largest source of these gasses is the United States of America, which gets 81% of its total energy from oil, coal, and natural gas, all of which are fossil fuels. Human-induced climate change has been thought to have been an issue since 1830, during the industrial revolution. It’s only recently been a focus as a national issue within the last 30 years.
The freshman BioTechnology teacher, Heidi Hisrich, expressed her opinion on the social impact of climate change. “I think it is absolutely a social justice issue. The people who will suffer most are the poorest and most disadvantaged people on the planet and the ones from places that have contributed the least to the problem.” She continued, “People like us who are relatively wealthy and contribute the most and most likely to be able to survive the changing climate with less impacts and that is really unfair. I think we need to recognize the impact that we are having and the people it is affecting.”
Cooper discussed generational responsibility concerning climate change. “Each generation is always like, ‘Oh, the next generation will fix it.’ They keep passing it off to one another,” she said. “I think our generation, because of how much access to knowledge we have, is capable of creating change. But the harder part is getting the other generations to try.”
Senior Nora Haddon, who is planning to study environmental studies in college, expressed her opinion on whether or not humanity can create enough change to affect the world positively. She explained that while it is sad to believe, she thinks it’s unlikely, saying, “Because of the way people live their life, I’m gonna say no.”
“A lot of people are so set in their ways, they don’t want to change. You know, they’ve always done it a certain way, they don’t see the imminence of the need for change,” Haddon further explained. “I think if people understood why change needs to happen, humanity can do the right thing and make a difference.”
Cooper explained how larger corporations could make a difference. “If they help implement policies for production within the United States, like limiting production of materials that are hurting our planet, then maybe other larger countries will see the U.S. doing it and be like, yeah, we should do that too.”
She continued, “But also, there are already other smaller countries that don’t have as much power but they’re doing great. Some of them have really good environmental policy implementations that are really helping with climate change.”
Costa Rica is an example of the phenomenon described by Cooper. In 2017, Costa Rica was named the second most sustainable country in the world by the World Energy Council. Currently, the country uses 99.2 percent renewable energy, 78 percent from hydroelectric and 18 percent by geothermal.
Another example is Iceland, which currently is powering a significant portion of its country with green energy from hydro and geothermal sources. The only exception is its reliance on fossil fuels for transportation.
Haddon elaborated on her fears for the future, saying, “[Climate change] does definitely scare me. I want to make a difference because it’s so important. That fact that we’re already to a [place] where it’s almost irreversible, that’s terrifying. What are the effects of climate change going to look like in my lifetime? Is it going to be good enough for me to have kids or want to bring kids into this world? Like, what is that situation? Why should I be robbed of those rights?”
Haddon added that anything someone can do, will make a difference: “Sometimes, people look at recycling and think it won’t make a difference, and I know it can feel that way. But if you look at it that way, nothing will ever get done. If you as an individual think you can’t make a difference, then why would a whole company? So do what you can.”
Ms. Elissa Fusco, the junior Biomedical Engineering teacher at Bio-Med, talked about what she believes Bio-Med as a school can do.
“A little goes a long way, and it breaks my heart watching globs of paint get thrown away because students only need a paintbrush-full. Paper for projects, seeing markers go uncapped that have to be thrown away, and pencils being broken for no reason are all things that we as a community can become more mindful about the waste we produce.”
Cooper expanded on this, saying, “Using less plastic and helping to reduce plastic manufacturing [will help]. Try and help restore wetlands in Ohio, which are extremely important to our environment. It’s the small things that really matter.” She continued, “I think understanding what it is, and not just looking at it from a political point of view, looking at it from a scientific perspective and looking at the facts and what they say, is really important.”
To read more about the report, go to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s website.