The Ticking Clock of Climate Change

Human-induced climate change is an issue of today and not for future generations to fix

While often considered an issue for future generations, climate change is an ongoing process and affects our everyday lives. Its devastating impact is evident across regions and in many sectors vital to societal well-being—such as agriculture, water supply, environment, and energy, among others—and is expected to worsen increasingly in the next decade.

As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the last decade was the warmest on record, with a global surface temperature of +0.82℃ (+1.48℉) above the 20th-century average. This surpassed the previous decade’s (2001-2010) temperature record of +0.62℃ (+1.12℉). Global surface temperature will continue to increase unless sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are made in the coming decades; climate consequences will be even more severe.

One of the most observable effects of climate change is an increase in both the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. According to the United Nations, human-induced climate change affects every region, and there is growing evidence of links to heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones. Increasingly extreme weather events have caused a rise in natural disasters over the past fifty years, disproportionately impacting poorer countries. More water vapor in the atmosphere has worsened rainfall and flooding, and warming oceans have affected the frequency and extent of severe tropical storms. The Paris Agreement, a 2016 legally binding international treaty on climate change, was created to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise of this century reasonably below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5℃. However, with the continuously rising global temperature, many are upset at the lack of regard of both the government and the world population for climate change and believe it is not enough.

The climate crisis affects every part of our life, and it is crucial for us to put all our resources towards solving it.

— Emma Wiebel, sophomore

Environmental Action Club at a protest for a fossil-free future in Downtown San Diego with Youth v. Oil. Image via Emma Weibel

La Jolla High School Environmental Action is a school club dedicated to educating the student population and local community on climate change. They believe it is a significant issue and that the changes in our natural world will have a devastating impact, such as extreme natural disasters and rising sea levels. Climate change is a multifaceted issue with connections to increased food shortages, an increase in the wealth gap, and disease. Emma Weibel, the club president, believes that while extreme weather patterns are among the most observed, additional aspects will have an even greater effect. She said, “There are a lot of day-to-day effects like more extreme weather. The climate crisis affects every part of our life, and it is crucial for us to put all our resources towards solving it.” Emma notes that as time goes on, “…our marine life in San Diego will be at threat of dying off due to acidic water, and our oxygen supply will continue to deplete as trees and coral reefs suffer.”

Emma also discussed what LJHS Environmental Action has done and is currently working on in relation to the climate crisis. “We are a part of Eco Club Coalition with San Diego 350, so we’ve been working with them to bring opportunities for members. Our club has been represented at two protests, eco-club coalition socials, and other events in the area.” Currently, the club has been focused on a fossil-free California and national issues such as the potential passing of the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska. The week of April 17th, they plan to hold a thrift shop in the library to promote sustainable fashion, and more information will be released soon.

Observed exponential growth in global temperature. Image via National Centers for Environmental Information

Biology and AP Environmental Science teacher Mrs. Eaton discussed the major aspects of climate change and how it is a change of climatic patterns, specifically an acceleration of the same climatic patterns that have occurred for eons now going faster in an exponential way. AP Environmental science teaches that climate change is an issue of the now and is anthropogenic (human-caused). Mrs. Eaton said, “It should be taught in regular Biology, and it already has been. Biology in the San Diego Unified School District is now called Biology/Earth Science and incorporates parts of earth, life, and physical science in the course of regular Biology. We won’t go as in detail as AP Enviroment does, but the issue of global climate change it is still being addressed.”

Human-induced climate change is an issue for today and not for future generations to fix. In every region across the globe, it has affected weather and climate extremes, from heatwaves to tropical cyclones. Estimates by NASA indicate that without significant measures to decrease emissions, global temperature is on track to rise by 2.5℃ to 4.5℃ (4.5℉ to 8℉). If climate change is not emphasized as an urgent issue, devastating consequences will occur.