The crisis of our time is not on your television screens

Casey Metcalf, Opinion Editor

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Republican candidate Donald Trump’s official statement on climate change is that it simply doesn’t exist. He believes it is – at its core – a great hoax composed by China to make sure that America falls behind in our grand industrial race.

As unfounded as these statements may seem, he sure isn’t alone in thinking them. Another candidate for the 2016 nomination, Ted Cruz, thinks similarly that climate change is nothing but pseudoscience. Even a retired neurosurgeon that is hoping to receive the Republican nomination believes that global warming is, as he so delicately put it, irrelevant.

So in the interest of creating informed, knowledgeable voters for the upcoming election, here we’re going to cover something that is rarely heard in the GOP debates that are circulating these days – facts.

Climate change is simply put, the most important issue facing our time today. If the election were fair, honest and the American people were driven and informed, it would be the only thing any candidate would be concerned with putting their stance out on. Nothing else matters in the grand scheme of things – nothing matters if we don’t have a planet to argue on.

With that said – global warming is real.

Okay, so there isn’t a 100 percent guarantee of basically anything in the world but this one is pretty convincing.

Scientific evidence has long supported the idea of climate change. Like, long supported. Another aspect that has been around for awhile is the idea of a two degree threshold. This idea comes about from the concept that if the Earth warms above two degrees Celsius of the pre-industrial era temperature, we will suffer major differences in the way we live our lives today. Scientists predict that seas will rise, droughts will occur at great frequency and will be much worse than the current ones. Wildfires in the US are expected to increase 400 percent to 800 percent, 20 percent to 30 percent of animals will be up for extinction. The Arctic will lose 30 percent of annual sea ice and the availability of freshwater will decline by at least 20 percent.

Basically – not a world any of us will want to live in. It will cause big problems and unless you’re unspeakably rich and can afford the exponentially greater cost of living – your quality of life will significantly drop from where it is today. The days of comfy, cozy air conditioning will be over – and that’s just the beginning.

We are currently at .8 degrees, which sounds promising. Except, scientists predict that another .7 degrees is already baked into our atmosphere, which makes our real number 1.5 degrees. This is very dangerously close. And to be honest because I don’t like to lie, even if we stopped everything today and never polluted again – it’s very possible we would still go over that two degree mark. However as bad as the world at two degrees sounds, if we don’t change and we make it to four or five degrees, it will be terribly worse.

There are those out there who scream and shout about the fact that the world has gone through phases like this in the past – that we have always had climate change and because of this, it is the natural way of life that the planet should warm this way and create changes in climate. However, we have never seen anything like this. If you see a graph of the way the Earth has warmed and cooled as time has gone on, and you fast forward to today’s age – we are pouring an exponentially higher amount of pollution into the atmosphere than at any time before. As a result of this, we are speeding up the world’s natural cycle and not only that but we are intensifying it radically.

It is understood in the scientific community that if we continue burning fossil fuels and polluting at the current rate, we will hit two degrees by mid-century and five degrees by 2100.

A five degree world is the point (quite literally) of no return. Mass extinctions, and complete reconfiguration of coastlines around the world will be trademarks of this time. And one more time for the people in the back, mass extinctions. This would be apocalyptic. And even scarier, this time frame isn’t in a thousand or a million years. This could very well happen in our lifetime, if a change isn’t made.

The excuse of, “oh, it’ll be the next generation’s problem” cannot be made anymore. This is our problem. And chances are you had no idea this was happening. The media doesn’t want you to know. No one “important” wants you to know. The people who do are being overshadowed by Donald Trump’s patented Trump Wall. But we need to get behind the people who are active about changing things. It just so happens that the only presidential candidate that has realistic and ambitious goals about climate change is Bernie Sanders. He counts it as one of our biggest issues and has been quoted as saying, “Climate change is the single greatest threat facing the planet.”

Regardless of where you stand on other politics, it doesn’t matter. It is vital that we follow through for our planet and get someone in power that feels this way. That won’t distract us with petty partisan drama. None of the Republican candidates have plans to change our emissions, and even Hillary Clinton (while she agrees it is real), still believes there isn’t much to be done.

So vote informed about this issue, the biggest issue our generation will face. Don’t shy away from talking about climate change – the idea of it can be scary, but the idea of ignoring it until it comes knocking on your door is even scarier. Talk about the dangers of what we’re doing, and create informed minds all around you who will know the real issues and the real problems facing today’s society. Talk. Talk until change is made.

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