Marlena Komatz Michigan

The Violent Truth of Climate Change

Our world is changing and we need to accept it.

Dear influential world leader,

I find it impossible to believe that the changes we have made to our world are irreversible. We cannot deny the fact that our environmental footprint has been made. Whether you believe that what happens to Earth is vital to human survival or not, please do not dismiss the fact that we have made an extraordinary difference to the world in an extremely short amount of time. Through deforestation, carbon dioxide emissions, depletion of nonrenewable energies, species extinction, and rising temperatures, we have created a world in which we take what we want and think nothing of it. I am here to convince you that we must acknowledge the faultiness of our actions, the unequivocal impact we have made, and the serious changes we must consider in order to ensure the human race’s safety and long-lasting success.

There are many arguments to be made about how legitimate ‘global warming’ is. There are those who negate any form of climate change and there are those who believe human demise is around the corner - I am somewhere in between, where I think many others also stand. Can I state with confidence that the amount of pollution we are releasing into the air will kill us in a matter of months? Fortunately, no. However can I sit here and write that coral reefs are not dying, icebergs are not melting, animals are not going extinct, and deforestation isn't occurring? Absolutely not.

There are two sides of the debate that arise from the controversial issue of climate change. While it is frankly obvious that I am very passionate about the idea that we need to save our Earth, you might be sitting there thinking of the great profit America gains through simple acts of deforestation and clearing ecosystems. And yes, I cannot deny that there is a massive market out there for newly cleared plots of land and lumber. In fact, there are billions of dollars in new infrastructure projects, cattle ranching, and commercial logging - America gains from loss of trees, I can’t disagree with that. However, so many people are under the impression that the global market is the most important factor in our prosperity, but that can’t be further from the truth. While we all have the notion that we are gaining money, in actuality we are losing more than we are producing. We are tearing down acres upon acres of rainforests every second and underneath all of the shallow profits are quickly fading assets and plummeting vital resources. You might have heard that over 50% of the world’s species exist only in rainforests. Or perhaps that within that percentage, 25% of all cancer fighting organisms are found solely in the Amazon. Meaning, at this rate, in less than 100 years, not only will all the rainforests be destroyed, but also ¼ of the chances that we will ever cure cancer will be eliminated too. We also receive 20% of all our oxygen from the rainforests. While I hope that the skeptics are right and that we are planting enough trees to match the amount we are cutting down, there are also facts that we cannot deny. Facts like forest soils are naturally moist due to the constant coverage from the sun. Without shade-bearing trees, the soils quickly dry up and the once previously flourishing lands become barren wastelands. Deserts are spreading like wildfire and we cannot can’t contain them.

So then we have to ask ourselves what we should do? Do we continue cutting down every tree that isn’t protected? But then what happens when everything but reserves have been cut down? We won’t stop there. We will find another excuse to cut down another tree, and it will go on and on until we are left with nothing but a desolate dryland. We have to stop ourselves now, when we can, before we have nothing left. So, you have to weigh your options: wealth in the present or longevity in the future? If you choose wealth, I must ask you something. In the near future when we have destroyed every rainforest and we have downed every ecosystem that we can get our hands on, what is the use of money when we cannot use it on anything besides oxygen tanks and research in lowering carbon levels?

Of course, if you chose to believe that the profit America receives is more vital to our success than the destruction of millions of acres of ecosystem, I will respect your decision. However, please do not think that deforestation is the only impact we are having. I am sure that you have heard of the term, ‘greenhouse gases’, or what many scientists consider the leading cause of climate change. The gases we produce through certain actions like burning fossil fuels, driving cars, overpopulating livestock, and the creation of more waste dumps are the gases that capture heat within earth’s atmosphere. On one side, these gasses are considered responsible for the rising temperatures throughout the entire globe, but on the other side many people claim that the amount of gasses being released aren’t nearly enough to actually cause any harm to the atmosphere. While I do agree that there would have to be a massive increase in nearly every heat-capturing gas, I would also like to state that there has been astronomical increases. There has been a 53% increase in carbon dioxide since the mid-1700’s, a 12% increase of nitrous oxide, and a 17% increase in methane. All three of these gasses are known to condense and capture heat, the earth’s temperature has risen 1.7 degrees since 1880; why is it so hard for people to connect the dots and admit that heat-capturing gasses may be responsible for rising temperatures?

Too many people also declare that the warming of the Earth is natural, cyclical, and nothing to be worried about. However nothing about this is natural, nothing about this is normal, and we have strayed so far from the average cycle that we should absolutely be concerned for the future of our species. There is concrete proof that earth follows a cycle of warming and cooling every couple thousand years, and we should be entering into a new cycle, and we are - but it’s the wrong one. According to Milankovitch’s theory, the idea that we have a cyclical climate, every 100,000 years the Earth undergoes a change. However, contrary to our climate right now and the data that is being collected; we should be entering into a cooling period. Our temperatures should be beginning to decrease and slowly another ice age should begin. But instead our temperatures are increasing at an alarming rate with no sign of stopping. What is happening to our world is anything but natural. In fact, earlier in 2013 we reached the milestone of hitting a concentrated 400ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I want to clarify that the highest amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is safe is 350ppm, and we are now above 400. And what should frighten us even more is the rate of increase in just the last five decades. Although we have tried and succeeded in masking these issues, our efforts should not plateau. Every single person on this planet needs to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible before we no longer have control of our environment's future. The rate at which carbon dioxide is increasing is unequivocal, unstoppable, and is persistently rising with no signs of slowing down. We are not following the usual climate pattern and what is happening is not normal nor natural. The world is warming up and who do we have to blame?

The icecaps are melting. Global temperatures have risen 1.7 degrees. Sea levels are rising 3.4 millimeters every year. 13.4% of arctic ice is disappearing every decade. 20% of all the rainforests has been permanently destroyed. The world is changing in an unpredictable and violent way. We need to accept that things are different instead of declaring every issue a conspiracy and denying every complication thrown at us. Earth is becoming an oven and we need to figure out what is causing it and what we can do to stop it before changes become irreversible and we are forced to live out the rest of humanity with the question, ‘what could have been?’

For the sake of our future,

A concerned citizen of the world


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