Climate Change Catch-Up


The concept of climate change has been in the public consciousness since the mid-20th century when American scientists began reporting concerns about a possible “greenhouse effect” taking place. Since then, a combination of further research and activism efforts have kept the idea in the mainstream.

The term climate change refers to natural, long-term shifts in global temperatures and weather patterns. These changes can be triggered by natural causes, such as shifts in the solar cycle, but can also be accelerated by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil emits greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) that trap the heat of the sun within the planet, raising global temperatures slowly. Since the mid-19th century, the global temperature has risen 1.1˚C, and according to the United Nations, it is on track to rise by 2.7˚C by the end of the century.

In addition to rising average temperatures around the globe, climate change has other noticeable consequences on the planet. The weather becomes uncharacteristic of a region due to the change in temperature, destroying communities, threatening crops, and disrupting ecosystems, all creating a host of other issues.

On campus, students and teachers alike are concerned about the effects of climate change, now and in the future.

“This is an issue that should definitely be addressed by those who are in power,” said AP Biology teacher Mr. Alex Rivera.

“We cannot, by any means, continue in our current trajectory at the expense of the planet,” said senior Enrique Pineda. “This problem, although inherited, will not be paid for and solved by the perpetrators. It is all up to us”.

“If things don’t get better then we’ll live to see a very different world,” said senior Cole Miranda. “We will live in a world that lacks coastal states, entire nations, and species diversity”.

They feel that it is an important issue that should be at the forefront of discussions about global policy for the future.

“Even though things can get better I feel that world leaders need to place more emphasis on what will happen later until then,” Miranda said. “In order to be truly successful we need cooperation from every world leader”.

Students involved in climate activism on campus also recognize that taking action and making a change soon will not be an easy feat.

“It’ll take a monumental effort to change the climate for the better,” Pineda said. “It won’t be one individual deciding to buy a Prius, it won’t be one company deciding to go green, it won’t even be anyone government instituting a cap on pollution, but the collective human race taking steps together”.

Motivated by their concern for the planet, they have been taking action, on and off-campus.

“If you think that you can’t do anything to impact the battle against climate change, you’re completely mistaken,” Miranda said. “I am actually currently in discussion with faculty about initiating an Environmental Concern club to bring awareness to the simple things that we all can do in our community to help”.

Off campus, many students like Enrique Pineda do what they can in their day-to-day lives to take action.

“I try lowering my carbon footprint wherever possible. I attempt to extend my wardrobe as long as possible, I often carpool or bike, and my family and I have heavily reduced the amount of meat we consume,” Pineda said. “There are so many small changes [you can make] which could add up”.

Sunrise El Paso, a local “hub” of the Sunrise Movement, is an organization that is taking action to curb the effects of climate change in our community as well as making the voices of those who are concerned for the future of the environment heard in the political sphere. They are a youth-led organization that coordinates environmental concern action across the city.

Although UN climate reports have found that we are currently not on track to keep the climate from rising 1.5˚C over pre-industrial levels as outlined in the Paris Agreement, there are a few things that the global community can currently do to curb climate change and its effects. Switching from the use of fossil fuels to the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power can make a substantial cut to current levels of carbon emissions if efforts are made in the near future.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the best way to reduce the effects of climate change is drastic cuts to the levels of emissions coming from the world’s top 3 producers in the next 10 years. Their reports also indicate that over 130 countries have already set a goal to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by the middle of the 21st century, another effort to curb rising levels of greenhouse gases.