On Oct. 8, the world was exposed to staggering statistics about the health and longevity of our Earth, which included learning that carbon dioxide emissions would need to be nearly cut in half by the year 2030.
Our current global warming measurement sits at 1 degree Celsius, and we are already seeing changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and melting Arctic sea ice. If our global warming levels continue to rise, our climate would see an array of irreversible damage, including a devastating decline in the majority of coral reefs, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Oct. 8 report.
The report states that limiting our rate of global warming will allow for people and other ecosystems to slowly adjust to the change. In order to stop this global crisis, it's important to educate ourselves on what we can do to live a greener lifestyle.
As University of Minnesota students, we have exponential opportunities to lead a greener lifestyle and to educate ourselves on what that may embody. Student groups like Collegians For a Constructive Tomorrow and the Environmental Student Association are just two of the many groups on campus that give us, as students, the space to voice our concerns and take action to combat climate change.
But it does not end there. It's important we push our government leaders, nationally and locally, to put forth policies that contribute to the well-being of our environment. In 2017, Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill that prevented the city of Minneapolis from banning all plastic bags. Dayton initially showed his support for this ban, but a Republican-led budget bill that included a passage blocking cities from instituting the ban passed, ending the immediate hope of deterring plastic bag use in Minnesota. Although it would have been a small change, combinations of small changes are necessary to meet global warming goals.
Around one hundred companies are responsible for 71 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas, according to Forbes. We need to hold those organizations accountable for their emission levels and be persistent in calling out their lack of urgency in becoming more environmentally friendly. Vocalizing concerns about the well being of our planet to those who are responsible for decision-making is another small, but crucial step we can all take.
We must take initiative to push for progress and educate ourselves on environmental issues. Starting at home, we can accomplish simple tasks like recycling, using reusable water bottles and even taking public transportation. Again, these small efforts made by many can make a lasting impact on reducing our carbon footprint. As individual citizens, we don't even account for half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but every attempt at becoming educated and practicing an environment-friendly lifestyle matters.
We have 12 years left until we start to see catastrophic damage. If we don’t start changing our ways, we will all be sorry.