In 2006, Al Gore’s environmentalist film “An Inconvenient Truth” came out, documenting the increasing damages climate change would wreak on our planet without humans changing the way we treat our environment. At this time, I was nine years old and after seeing the damage done by Hurricane Katrina the year before and having a keen interest in endangered animals, it didn’t take long for me to adopt Al Gore as a hero of mine. By the time I was in fifth grade, my goals of being a paleontologist, a veterinarian and a ballerina were swept aside in the hopes I’d be what Al Gore was: an environmentalist — someone who would help make our planet healthier and more energy-efficient.
Yet here we are in 2017; Al Gore’s movie now has a sequel, a large majority of those in the executive branch, including the man residing as president, are climate change deniers and the hurricanes making landfall in Florida and Texas are comparable only to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that destroyed similar regions twelve years ago. It feels like events are repeating themselves; Trump, like The Guardian recounts Bush doing, is censoring climate change reports to publicly minimize the effects of global warming. Southern states are being hit hard by high-category tropical storms and according to National Geographic, “in coming decades, predictions based on warming suggest that average-intensity tropical cyclones — Atlantic hurricanes included — will likely get more intense,” said atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel adding that “there’s ‘pretty good consensus’ that high-intensity (Category 3, 4, or 5) hurricanes will also become more common in coming decades.”
The wake up call for all of us is long overdue and it’s high time we as a global community take preventive action to reduce the effects of climate change. This isn’t to minimize the steps we’ve already taken. In 2015, the UN released their 17 Sustainable Development Goals meant to be accomplished over the course of fifteen years, three of those goals striving for clean and affordable energy, climate action and sustainable consumption and production by means of green, renewable energy. However, decisions such as President Trump’s choice to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord this summer sends our country backwards in terms of progress on this issue. It sounds corny to say, but the one thing we humans have is our earth. When I was younger and saw clips of Al Gore’s film, which showed coastal states like Florida and California underwater within my lifetime, it was more than enough to spur me into action. For politicians and leaders in our government things are obviously more complicated, but agreeing to heal the one hospitable place we all live in shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
I refuse to live in a world that is periodically ravaged by massive hurricanes and the wildfires currently raging in California, Montana and Oregon, as reported by InciWeb, if there are steps we can take to prevent them. With the proper measures and the investment in the technologies that can help, I hope these natural disasters light a fire under lawmakers who have been ignoring the scientific proof of this issue for so long. The people and the environment that these storms and fires are harming are the result of our inaction, and the refusal of those in positions of power to shrug off their own ignorance. Climate change is terrifyingly real and it’s up to us to learn from our mistakes and help our planet bounce back.