Climate Change is one of the most talked about environmental hazards in the world right now. With extreme weather phenomenon such as the disastrous Hurricane Harvey, and the overall temperature of the Earth climbing, it is no wonder. If climate change continues to grow, the consequences may be extremely severe. Not just severe weather, but mass extinction, the loss of entire nations, and populous cities like New York completely underwater.
These aren't the only problems that may occur from climate change. If global warming rises above 5 degrees Celsius, it could mean the end of human civilization. While we are a long way away from that 5 degrees, there is also a point of no return where even stopping all carbon emissions completely won't be enough to save the planet. It is a serious threat to our world and our survival.
Luckily, there is hope that complete disaster caused by climate change can be avoided. For the first time ever, hundreds of countries gathered together for a single cause, to limit their carbon footprint and bring concrete change to the problem of a warming climate.
The Paris Climate Accord is an agreement set in 2016 that would begin a global effort to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. In a nutshell, each country according to its ability would work toward lowering the amount of green house gasses going into the atmosphere.
The goal is for each country to begin making changes by 2020, with concrete steps being taken all the way. As of now, every single country in the world has signed the pledge except for the United States, who backed out of it. Even then, over 20 states and 60 different cities throughout the USA have agreed to abide by the pledge, and ignore the wishes of the federal level of government.
This makes the Paris Climate Accord a landmark achievement, because it is one of the only agreements the entire world has adopted. Today, many countries have already started taking enormous steps toward carbon reduction.
The rules of the accord are fairly loose, and not legally binding. The hope is to make the accord flexible enough that every country can participate without being forced out due to funds or lack of ability. It was also designed to avoid frightening off the countries most responsible for the pollution. The accord quite simply asks each and every country to reduce their emissions, and to help take a stand in the fight against global warming. It is a proud moment in history that nearly everyone on the planet agreed as one to do this, as much as they are able. The results are already beginning to be seen, and are both prompt and hopeful.
China, one of the countries most responsible for emissions, is also taking some of the boldest steps to reduce them. They've instituted a cap on coal consumption, still a popular way to heat homes in China, and is also one of the biggest innovators in renewable energy. They are working on a plan to phase out vehicles that run on gas completely, and has focused on reforestation as well.
These ambitious plans have already put them on target to both achieve and exceed their milestones, making them a leader in the fight against climate change.
India is also on track to meet or possibly even exceed their goals set in the Paris agreement. Among their many fine achievements, canceling all of their new coal plants until 2026, and an ambitious plan to only sell electric vehicles by 2030.
Other countries who were already environmentally friendly to begin with, have made even more profound steps. In particular, Iceland has created a negative emissions power plant that actually takes carbon out of the atmosphere, and Finland has achieved the status of most environmentally friendly with its carefully maintained forests.
Many other countries are stepping up their efforts, and money is being raised for countries who are still developing so that they can get the help they need to be more energy achievement. It is truly a proud moment in history, as more countries announce their latest achievements in lowering their emissions.
The results of the accord are already very real and noticeable upon the environment. While the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere has not fallen, it also has not increased. This is extremely promising because the economy has grown since the Paris Agreement was first made. It suggests that the emissions in the atmosphere are decoupling from the rise in economy as we discover new ways to produce energy.
If we can keep going on this track, it may be possible to not only keep global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius, but well below to the end goal of 1.5 degrees, or even lower. If this can happen, it would guarantee that island nations would not go underwater due to rising sea levels, and many other disasters would be averted.
There is still a great deal that needs to be done in terms of stopping the impact of industrialization on the environment. While we have already made huge strides toward a better world through the Paris Agreement, and many countries are working hard to reduce their carbon emissions, 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide are still released into the atmosphere every year.
In order to insure the survival of the human race, and that of millions of different plant and animal species, global warming will have to be combated by every man, woman and child. It is one of the biggest threats the human race has ever faced, but one we are already winning against.
With the combined efforts of humanity, the outlook of our planet has become a hopeful one. With the advent of amazing new technologies that allow us to power our homes, gain access to clean water, and conduct our lives without a severe impact on the environment, it is only a matter of time before we win the fight against global warming.
You can support the fight against global warming in your own home if you want to. Many utility companies have an option for you to purchase renewable energy from them instead of energy from fossil fuels. These options can cost as little as an additional $3 a month, and greatly reduces your carbon footprint. Other options are ones you may be familiar with. Reduce the amount of disposable packaging you throw away, and recycle what you can. Doing these things can greatly reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number of items that need to be created in the first place.
Together we can fight climate change, and make a difference in the world. It's possible, and the world is already changing for the better.