Extreme Conditions: the Climate Crisis in the United States

As the world continues to battle COVID-19, climate change has not stopped and many are starting to suffer the consequences.

Gabriela McGrath Moreira

As the world continues to battle COVID-19, climate change has not stopped and many are starting to suffer the consequences.

Gabriela McGrath Moreira, Staff Writer

As the treacherous wildfires sweep through the western part of the United States and massive storms form all over the Atlantic Ocean, it is important to note that extreme weather is not normal and it is an evident sign that our environment is suffering. This new reality that we are witnessing is not surprising as climate change continues to threaten our planet while our government officials continue to ignore the evidence.

Climate change has greatly intensified over the course of these past few years due to human activities such as the continuation of the burning of fossil fuels everyday. As the world continues to combat COVID-19, one very relevant effect of climate change is now being seen in the United States with extreme weather patterns. The ongoing effects of climate change will continue unless we take quick action and fight for climate justice.

“Climate change is one of many issues around the world where the average person needs to do more than just having a positive outlook and hoping that it is getting better. People need to be aware of what is happening and what they can do to help combat it,” freshman Beatriz Carvalho said.

Wildfires have always been a natural and essential part of our ecosystems, with practices such as slash and burn agriculture used by farmers, where manmade fires were created as a way to clear out land and create more fertile soil. This practice takes the natural service of wildfires and clears plantations to let healthier vegetation grow. However, with climate change, these wildfires have intensified to an extent that is unnatural and detrimental to the environment due to warmer temperatures and drying soils which is what fires need to strengthen. For example, Alaska is warming two times faster than the rest of the world and has also experienced four of the 10 largest wildfires in the last 15 years, burning over two million acres of land. Currently, wildfires continue to plague areas in California, burning almost 3.6 million acres and destroying seven thousand structures. These fires are raging across the Western United states and causing families to end up homeless with nowhere to go. Extreme weather is here to stay and if we continue to let climate change get worse, these effects will also worsen.

On the other side of the United States, wildfires are not such an imminent threat as hurricanes are. Hurricanes are local to South Florida and the east coast and have grown stronger and deadlier than ever due to the warming ocean. The ocean has always absorbed excess heat and distributed it evenly throughout the earth. However, since a lot more heat is being trapped in our atmosphere due to greenhouse gases, the ocean is absorbing more heat then it can release, causing it to warm at a rapid rate. Warm water can be considered the fuel that allows hurricanes to develop since hurricanes require heat energy from the ocean. As we have seen in Florida, hurricanes can be devastating in terms of the toll on our communities.

The effects of climate change are now taking place in our everyday lives and threatening our property, safety and livelihood, yet our government is lacking in climate action and viewing the climate crisis as a partisan issue. With a 97 percent or more scientific consensus from the science community that it is caused by human activities, there is still a great deal of people who refuse to acknowledge the severity of this issue. The republican party tends to argue this is a “hoax” even when scientific facts are presented to them. Instead of listening to the people, they have decided to politicize the climate crisis when it is actually science based. For example, the Trump administration even pulled out of the Paris accord, an agreement with the majority of countries to keep the world from heating over two degrees celsius this century.

I think we all are the ones who are in charge of keeping the planet safe. After all, protecting the environment protects us as well. We, as young people, have to use our voices to speak up and make a call to action,”

— senior Melanie Ozuna

Wildfires are destroying structures and wiping out towns to the west while hurricanes are creating major flooding and destruction to property in the east. Although the effects are there, we can stop them from getting worse as well as lessening the impact. Effective change is key to combating climate change and that is why it is so important to make sure we vote for government officials who are willing to govern for the people and not to improve their political agenda.

That change starts with you. If this subject resonates deeply with you, there are various youth-based organizations to get involved with. In Miami, you can join the CLEO Institute, specifically Gen-cleo, the Sunrise movement and Fridays for Future. You can also join clubs such as Gables Earth and create initiatives to make your community more sustainable. Keep in mind that this is our future we are fighting for and we all have a powerful voice in the fight.