Constantly, at every dimension and level, our world is shifting. In the microcosm we live in, we can see constant turnover in fashion trends, slang words used, popular media platforms, and even favorite foods, with avocado having reigned as champion for a while. In a more global sense, there is, of course, constant political and economic change.
The fact is, though, that all these changes are reversible; in all these, humans have the power to continue to change their world in a positive direction. However, there is one constant threat of irreversible change that looms above us at all times- the extreme climate change brought upon by human-induced global warming.
The fact is, though, that all these changes are reversible; in all these, humans have the power to continue to change their world in a positive direction. Emmie Stratakis
Every corner of the Earth is seeing different patterns of weather. The Alps are seeing significantly less snow, while rainfall has decreased in the Dead Sea region, leading to its shrinkage. On the other hand, unconventionally heavy rains are threatening the Ivory Coast in West Africa and their export of cocoa, and drought, along with deforestation, has left the Amazon Rainforest vulnerable to fires. Sea levels have been rising as a result of melting glacial caps, causing places like Venice and the Maldives to flood. Many coastal cities around the world are facing the same threat. Because of rising ocean temperatures, the Great Barrier Reef and the survival of many of its inhabitant species are also threatened. Harvests are consistently getting ruined in Sudan because of the torrential rainfalls followed by intense droughts with increasingly high temperatures.
Weather all over the world has become more extreme, with stronger storms and more erratic patterns. Even here at Penn, we had a massive snow storm in late March. This all constitutes a major shift in our natural environment that will permeate the daily lives of many, and it requires more attention from governments and citizens.
No one has had this need proven to them more than the inhabitants of Cape Town, South Africa, where a drought has plagued the city for the past several years. At first, not enough attention was given to this new change in weather, as most people assumed it was part of a regular pattern that would soon return to normal levels of rainfall. Water continued to be consumed at unnecessarily high rates, with taxpayers believing they had earned the right to whatever comfort level they desired.
Many ignored voluntary restriction suggested by the government, which has now led to the city nearing what they call “Day Zero”. This is the day where the government will be forced to shut off taps to homes and businesses because there is so little drinking water in the city reservoirs. A change in weather conditions has led this beautiful city to no longer have access to basic needs that were once available at luxurious levels. Now it is too late; without finding a new source of drinking water, the inhabitants will soon have to relocate in order to survive.
This often-ignored shift in climate is perhaps the most blaringly important one, because of its permanent nature. We cannot turn this wheel back, but we can slow it down. It is our responsibility to enforce changes that will save the natural environment.