Intro and Personal Interest
There are many global issues that are being addressed in the world today. These range from global public health, food security, and global education. However, by far the most impactful one for the future of our planet is the issue of global climate change.
Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates. These changes have a broad range of observed effects that are synonymous with the term (NASA).
Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere (NASA).
What are the causes and effects of climate change we see today?
Additional Personal Interest and Overview: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wySAMeLy-qhVVQ8p3iyqk87bD15bfqEaBNBXtjJ4_Pc/edit?usp=sharing
Scientific Historical Background
While the occurrence of climate change may seem like a new phenomenon, the Earth has experienced cold periods (ice ages) and warm periods (interglacials) in roughly 100,000-year cycles for at least the last 800,000 years. Over the course of these cycles, global average temperatures warmed or cooled anywhere from 3° to as much as 8° Celsius. This graph depicts the average global CO2 levels throughout the 800,000 year period. There are consistent fluctuations in the CO2 concentrations which coincide with the onset of ice ages with low CO2 and interglacials (hot periods) with high CO2 (Ritchie).
Regulation of Climate
This connection between Earth’s climate and greenhouse gases would remain a mystery to us until 1824 when a mathematician and physicist named Joseph Fourier asked the question: why doesn’t the planet keep heating up as it receives sunlight? After speculating, he finally came to the conclusion that it was the Earth’s atmosphere that regulated our planet’s temperature, specifically something in the atmosphere (Wogan).
Greenhouse Effect Discovery
The answer to why this happens would be found when Irish scientist John Tyndall started to explore what kinds of gases were most likely to play a role in absorbing sunlight. Tyndall’s laboratory tests in the 1860s showed that coal gas which contained CO2, methane, and volatile hydrocarbons could absorb energy. He demonstrated that CO2 acted like a sponge in the way it could absorb sunlight. This so-called Greenhouse Effect explained how our atmosphere (which contained these gases) was able to retain and regulate the heat that the Earth received from the sun (History.com).
First Climate Change Speculations
It was with this knowledge that in 1896, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius became curious about how levels of CO2 in the atmosphere might change the Earth’s climate. From his research, he concluded that the atmosphere’s Greenhouse Gas concentration and the Earth’s average global temperature were directly related. He was the first to propose that the release of Greenhouse Gasses into the atmosphere would increase the average global temperature (Weart).
Additional Historical Background Information: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-z_Mk-fel1usSpOr1qV8jCcpm41qNUou-cMkjLu9D28/edit?usp=sharing
The Trump Administration on Climate Change
One of the reasons action on climate change has been slow is the Trump administration’s efforts on rolling back legislation intended to deal with climate change from 2016 to 2020. The Trump administration frequently targeted regulations governing the production and use of fossil fuels, environmental laws that ensure clean air and water, the protection of sensitive lands, and the construction of pipelines to redirect oils from water sources. The administration also rolled back regulations on airborne emissions of toxic substances from power plants and reduced regulation of the disposal and storage of coal ash, both changes were part of President Trump’s effort to fulfill his campaign promise to revive the U.S. coal industry. Under the administration on November 4, 2020, the U.S. formally withdrew from the Paris Agreement, an agreement among 195 nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
United States Government action against Climate Change.
NOTE: This video is quite long and for those in a hurry key times are: 0:00-0:33, 2:37-3:36, 5:58-6:46, and 8:04 onwards (this video does not cover every single action)
Suggested Micro Response
- By far the most important way to combat climate change is to spread awareness regarding the topic. This can be done by talking with family, friends, peers, and discussing on social media. Spreading information on the occurrence of climate change will allow an individual to make better decisions regarding our environment and may cause them to take these other actions.
- Another way is to start transitioning into renewable energy for your house or transportation, if you cannot do this then what you should do is try to weatherize the space you live in, adding insulation and storm prevention additions (if necessary). Buying/Installing renewable energy sources will help support our environment in the long run and will allow for more jobs to be opened in the renewable energy section.
- Also, buying energy-efficient appliances such as a fuel-efficient car, better light bulbs, refrigeration, and trying to not let fully charged items continue to charge. This is the lowest-cost way for most people, and efficiency standards for dozens of appliances have kept 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the air (Denchak).
- My hope for this catalyst conference is to be able to spread information about the United States’ action towards Climate Change. In order for us to make a big change in our country, there need to be fewer people who openly deny the occurrence of Climate Change in our country, because it is those people who slow down and even prevent action from being taken in our communities and Government.
Suggested Macro Response
- The national-level best next step towards a solution would be to support the Biden Administration’s “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” or The Biden Plan for short. The main goal of The Biden Plan is to “ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050” (Joe Biden).
- Part of President Biden’s executive order will put in place an immediate review of agency actions taken between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021. The goal of this section is to repair the damage caused by the Trump administration’s deregulations of various climate-related acts and to put the government’s focus back on climate change.
- There will be new regulations proposed to establish standards of performance and emission guidelines for methane and volatile organic compound emissions from power plants. Other sections plan to take action against fossil fuel companies and polluters who knowingly harm our environment and poison low-income communities’ air, land, and water, by concealing information regarding potential environmental and health risks.
- However, without new climate legislation from Congress, Biden’s plan to reverse Trump’s rollbacks on emissions from vehicles, power plants and oil and gas drilling could be easily undone by a future administration and could take years to impose too. So how can we overcome these setbacks?
- The best way would be for President Biden to invoke a climate change as a National Emergency, which is a controversial move that would give the administration larger authority to circumvent Congress, like redirecting funding for clean energy sources and canceling offshore drilling projects (Newburger).
- Calling for a National Emergency would certainty face legal challenges, but it is our individual jobs to try and elect senate and congress representatives that reflect our concern of climate change and wont stall or prevent the Biden administration during this time.
Additional Current Event/ Solutions Information: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sNyzDVIwbrurab9yeNYwO7DtviyjglNv_w_FiuTeO0o/edit
Feedback and Responses:
Thank you for checking out my webpage! I really appreciate it, be sure to leave me some positive constructive feedback in the comments. I am especially interested to hear some thoughts about my macro (national-level) solution aspect of my project. Feel free to send me any additional solutions you feel connects to the micro or macro solutions. Finally, please if you can make sure to share this catalyst, we need to work together to educate and find out what else we all can do to combat climate change!
Complete Works Cited Document: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Rzk0tPiRpp4MjrNaMEHaKeWunLDEB2RASkHbJrI8TFI/edit?usp=sharing