Halting the Apocalypse: Potential Solutions to the Climate Change Crisis
Darya Foroohar, ‘20
Global warming is the one global crisis that is going largely ignored by many of the world’s elected leaders even though the evidence of its catastrophic consequences is painstakingly clear. With thousands of children perishing each day due to a lack of clean water, hurricanes leveling towns, and heat waves bringing death to those who do not have access to air conditioning, it is apparent that the earth’s steady increase in temperature will soon spell doom for all life on earth. Although certain countries, such as Germany, have placed limits on carbon emissions, many nations, like the U.S., are choosing to ignore the growing consequences in favor of short-term economic gain fostered by fossil fuels. Much of the support for the use of coal, oil, and other “dirty” sources of energy comes from an aging voter group, who will die before they have to face the worst effects of climate change on the earth.
This article is not to tell people like them to care about the future because it is evident that this is a futile quest. It is not aimed to educate people about the reality of global warming and its impacts on planet earth; there is enough evidence for that already that can easily be found on the internet. The intent is to educate people on steps that need to be taken by the government and the United Nations to help combat climate change not on an individual level, but a global one.
Finding a clean energy source: The Sahara desert alone has enough solar energy to power the entire earth, yet the middle east and northern Africa is still focused on oil for energy, a focus intensified by the history of western exploitation of the Middle East to make it purely a source of oil. If a comprehensive solar panel program is enacted across the Sahara, as well as other deserts (for there are many uninhabited areas), then global reliance on fossil fuels would be greatly reduced. Furthermore, solar power is not the only clean energy option: wind, water, and geothermal power are all sustainable options that would majorly benefit the earth in the long run and also decrease the danger of toxic oil spills that harm the world’s wildlife. In addition, nuclear energy is another very viable option seeing as many countries either already have nuclear weapons programs or are interested in developing them. If even part of that funding went into nuclear energy research, such as deciding between thorium and uranium as a power source, the programs developed for war would have a much more productive use in giving people across the world access to renewable energy.
Reducing carbon emissions: These emissions contribute greatly to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, trapping heat inside the planet. Much of these emissions come from multinational corporations, so one thing to be done about this is to institute a cap and trade policy in which companies compete for a limited amount of allotted emissions. This would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by enforcing a maximum amount of emissions that must be shared by all these companies; corporations that are not able to buy enough emissions would be forced to research alternative energy sources. In addition, this policy would promote economic growth and competition between companies instead of allowing them all to exploit the masses.
Another way to reduce these harmful emissions is for nations to impose a universal carbon tax. This policy would force large corporations to reduce their emissions or face major taxation by the government, both promoting sustainability and economic growth.
Sustainable agriculture: Much of today’s farming practices are incredibly harmful to the environment, with cash crops decreasing biodiversity, pesticides harming both the plants and those who eat them, and the meat and dairy industry contributing immensely to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as the loss of clean water and plant life. This is due to the fact that in raising cows and other animals used for meat, land is cleared for grazing, which means that forests are burned down to make flat fields, and water that could be used to feed multiple humans is being used for a single cow, of which only part of it will be eaten. Cows also release methane gas, which is incredibly harmful to the atmosphere, and the growth of the meat and dairy industries has only made this gas increase. In order for agriculture to lessen its detrimental impact on the earth, regulations must be put in place regarding the mass breeding of crops and animals for human consumption, which would lessen the waste produced by these practices. In addition, there must be methane gas regulations; a lesser focus on cows for meat and milk would help this initiative immensely.
Aid and Infrastructure: Many nations, much of whom do not contribute considerably to pollution levels and climate change, are already facing the brunt of its effects while other countries who do contribute a lot, such as the U.S., do not have to deal with the same problems. This is why, when regulations are instituted regarding carbon emissions and clean energy infrastructure, it is the duty of those more fortunate nations, through institutions such as the United Nations, to aid these struggling nations. Many developing nations cannot meet the infrastructure standards needed to stop the global temperature from increasing because they struggle with war, poverty, and famine, which is why, if the world’s nations come to an agreement on how to stop climate change, these nations must be sent economic aid and disaster relief.
Sticking to an agreement: After President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, it may seem like these climate agreements are simply non-binding agreements, for large, powerful nations who benefit from fossil fuels can leave them, spurring their exit by other nations until the so-called deals are meaningless. This should not be the case; it is imperative that all countries take responsibility and recognize the effects their actions have on the global community and ecology. Organizations like the UN need to stop allowing nations with a lot of economic leverage to manipulate agreements to their own benefit, because if global warming does not decrease, no one will benefit. It is naive to pretend that it is individuals who cause climate change, it is foolish to pretend that firm agreements should be violated, and it is morally wrong not to take action, if not for yourself, but for the generation who will inherit this broken world.