Reusable straws and bottles won’t save the planet

BY ALEXANDRA APPLEGATE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

A dozen years. Humankind only has 12 years to stop the progression of global warming

before it becomes irreversible and significantly worsens the number of floods, food short-ages, extreme weather and possible poverty for millions of people, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Ninety-one leading climate scientists noted the current global temperature is currently 1 degree Celsius hotter than pre-industrial levels and must be kept at or below a 1.5 C increase to prevent impacting the entire globe.

A U.N. report released Oct. 8 warned humankind must make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to prevent these possible catastrophic changes.

If nothing is done, the planet will reach a 1.5 C increase sometime between 2030 and 2052 — an alarmingly short number of years from now.

While seemingly impossible, experts said it is possible to prevent this bleak future.

Cutting or reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, is the largest change needed, accord- ing to the IPCC. This means energy systems, industrial designs and transportation services would all need drastic makeovers.

The state of California passed a law last July that will be implemented at the beginning of 2019, where people din- ing out will have to request a straw with their drink.

While refusing a plastic straw with your iced coffee every morning may minimally reduce waste, it is also not go- ing to significantly prevent the Earth’s temperature from rising to unsafe levels.

Additionally, the Earth’s condition is not getting better by pursuing individual, environmental-conscious efforts, such as utilizing reusable silver-ware or water bottles.

If we truly want to stop the Earth’s quickly rising temperature, more drastic measures need to be taken.

In recent years, the issue of climate change has become a political issue and has ostra- cized certain beliefs to either the left or right side. We need to quickly abandon the thought that acknowledging climate change means someone aligns themselves with a set of beliefs.

Making the drastic changes to reduce harmful emissions cannot be done on an individual level but we can still vote people into office who will make the planet a priority, whether they are a Republican or Democrat.

Since the United States is history’s largest polluter, we can also put pressure on our representatives to rejoin the Paris Accord, which sets targets to maintain low greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, as individuals, we can avoid and protest the highest-emitting companies that are responsible for 52 percent of greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution, such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell or BP, according to The Carbon Majors Database.

Although this latest report may seem bleak, it is not hopeless. There is still time for all of us to change the norm to preserve our planet.

About Alexandra Applegate

Editor-in-Chief

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