Do YOU believe in climate change?
With Election Day approaching, Climate Change has been a heavy topic of discussion here in the United States. Americans have had to stand up and face some pretty intense weather along with its devastating effects throughout this year alone. Those Americans have also struggled to wrap their heads around a way to efficiently fight it while still having a portion of our government blatantly denying the science behind global warming. We've watched this intensity build throughout the years and science is projecting that it's only going to increase with time. So, how can you ignore this when so many of us are directly being impacted by climate change?
At the end of August this year, Hurricane Laura pummeled her way across the state of Louisiana at a category 4. The storm forced families to seek immediate shelter, evacuate their state entirely, and in some cases she destroyed everything. Each year there are certain parts of the country that experience a hurricane season of their own. With that season comes extremely high winds, heavy rains, storm surges and in some cases tornadoes and intense flooding. The Atlantic hurricane season alone can last from June until November. Science shows that these storms are intensifying in force and are producing more rainfall causing heavier flooding as temperatures rise along with sea levels. So what's turning up the heat?
The Western Coast on the other hand, has their fire season. The season is defined by the weather conditions that are prone to sustain a fire if one were to be ignited. Even a carelessly flicked cigarette butt can cause havoc across millions of acres unintentionally. This season used to burn only for a short period of time, but now we find it scorching across a greater part of the year. Science shows that climate change is playing a key factor in increasing the overall risk of wildfires as well as their lifespan across the land. So how does this effect those who call the coast their home?
I wanted to hear from a human who had personally lived through some of these life altering effects brought on by climate change. Knowing just the right human to speak to, I called up one of my dear friends Sarah Donato. She currently lives in Medford Oregon with her family of 4 where the valley took on some of the blazing flames from the 2020 season.
Sarah, do you believe in Climate Change and why?
"Absolutely! The a significant portion of the scientific community agrees that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity. Also, in my lifetime so far, I personally have noticed the changes in weather patterns, and instances of extreme weather behavior where I have lived and around the world."
Have you been effected by Climate change in your personal life? If yes, how so?
"I have been personally effected by climate change at several different times in my life. When I lived in Florida in the early 2000’s, 4 major hurricanes hit in less than two weeks. Storms have only gotten stronger and more frequent since then. I have now lived in southern Oregon since 2017. In the summer of 2018 we had smoke so thick in our valley, we could not see the mountains for 2 1/2 months. The air quality was considered hazardous, even for healthy people, for most of that time. Now in 2020, a fire ravaged two major towns just south of me in an afternoon and evening. Leaving over 2500 homes burned to the ground It came down close to Medford, a city of over 80,000, the Southwest section had to evacuate. Including myself and my family. It was one of the most terrifying days of my life. Normally wildfires do not threaten major cities and towns, but due to historic drought, everyone and everything is potentially in danger. Many of my close friends lost everything they had. Many people even lost their pets because they could not get to their houses due to the speed of the fire. One cannot truly understand the impact unless you have gone and bought new clothes, towels and a blender for your friend, wearing donated clothes and just needs something normal out of their daily routine. Unless, of course, you have lost everything yourself."
What do you think the average human can do to help fight climate change?
"I think that individuals have more power to fight climate change than they believe they do. I feel that even just small changes, even one at a time, can have a large impact. For instance, I have been concerned about my plastic use, therefore I decided find reusable alternatives for my plastic waste. I bought nice reusable water bottles and to go coffee cups, and also reusable storage containers for my daughters lunch. I haven’t eliminated all of my plastic waste but my next step is reusable bottles like hand and dish soap. I feel that people often try to implement drastic sweeping changes in their lives, with good intentions, then find the extreme changes difficult and give up. I think simple changes over time will add up to a huge effect in the long run. We are only human after all, let’s give ourselves a break and do the best we can. So we can save the planet together, not alone"
The realities of Climate Change are starting to sink in deep for many around this world and even so, there are people in power who choose to ignore the facts. Science is real and we need to collectively listen to those who are bringing this science to the forefront. How we treat our world long term is far more important than winning an election or having more money in your bank accounts. We cannot ignore what we know to be true when the future of our generations are at the discretion of the decisions we make TODAY. So what can the average Joe do at home to fight climate change?
It easy, all you have to do is start with baby steps. Now, you're not going to make a worldwide impact overnight and you're not going to save all the polar bears in the world in a week but your efforts help create momentum towards those goals. Start with something as simple as Recycling in your own home and with time maybe start encouraging your work place to do the same. Avoid using wasteful plastics all together when you pack a lunch or maybe you can start carpooling one day a week to save on the number of cars on your commute to work. If every average Joe took that single baby step daily, the world would be starting to make strides towards fighting climate change as a whole. So you can sit back and watch the world slowly burn, or you can take action.
Reduce, Reduce, Recycle and VOTE.