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You’ve probably heard climate change at some point or another, whether it’s someone claiming it’s a hoax, or a scientist rambling about the importance of us changing the way we live. To understand climate change and its importance first we must know what it is. Climate change is defined as, “a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.”
Focusing mainly on the United States and Hawaiian Islands, this science article has opened my eyes to the damage climate change is doing. Climate change is a silent killer who tends to target islands due to their small size, low elevation, remote geographical location, and concentration of infrastructure along coastlines. It’s an overlooked problem that will cause future generations to fail. Climate change will further stress endangered and fragile ecosystems that are native to the tropical environment which coincides with islands. Before we look at specifics that can be attributed to climate change, it is important to realize that climate change is a preventable problem created by us in the first place. We owe it to our Earth to end pollution and help keep our land clean and if we don’t that will be on us.
The islands, due to climate change, are experiencing rising air temperatures and sea levels, and warmer, more acidic coastal waters. This may all seem like small changes but in reality these variables will affect all animal species, agriculture, water, and humanity. We will have to adapt to all these new changes and so will our environment and the question is, when we come to this rapid change will we and our environment be able to cope. Precipitation is becoming more unpredictable. Some areas will see dramatic increases while other will see decreases. On small islands water availability is a serious threat. When precipitation decreases, ground and surface water supply may not be able to be refilled, which means less fresh water availability. In contrast, some places would receive more water resulting in flooding, overloading of water infrastructure systems, and contributing to sewage contamination. Not only will this effect drinking water but it will affect the water supply and irrigation of crops, thus creating a serious issue in places that have inhabitants relying on farming as a source of income.
After hearing some of the repercussions of climate change you may still not be convinced this is something that will affect you. “Climate change will have far-reaching effects on local island culture, health, and livelihoods, altering traditional lifestyles on the islands.” This isn’t confined to islands, it also affects us in the United States and our lives would be changed as we would face environmental breakdown alongside economic struggle. Climate change is threatening local populations to have to relocate due to the severity of the consequences that climate change has on their welfare. This, once again is a huge set-back, relocating natives to foreign land isn’t as easy as it sounds. Most native tribes and groups have a long history with the land they are living on, whether it's religious, cultural, or economic and it is unfair to relocate them when climate change is a preventable peril. Climate change is also opening us up to more diseases due to changes in temperature such dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fevers.
Climate change is also expected to affect transportation, energy, and water infrastructure, including airports, roads and ports along with water waste systems. This will affect tourism, a huge revenue to many islands, once again, further breaking the economic configuration. The warming of waters will increase storm intensity, beach erosion, and ocean acidification. To give you an idea of just how much this will affect island tourism, “Tourism accounts for 26% of the state income in Hawaii. The loss of the Waikiki Beach in Hawaii alone could reduce the state annual income by $2 billion.” With a loss of two-billion dollars, threat of erosion, intense storms, the loss of oceanic species, irrigation and safe water problems, and loss of income through tourism, Hawaii cold have some major problems all due to climate change.
Ocean water is expected to have an increase in acidity which is attributed to climate change. With the ocean water becoming more acidic, many already endangered ecosystems would be put into a state of extreme distress, causing the ecosystems to become unbalanced and starting to fail, resulting in the disintegration of ecosystems ocean wide. Changes in the ocean will result in a total loss of $300,000,000 each year for Hawaii. Since the industrial revolution, ocean acidity has increased by 30%, 50 times faster than ever historically recorded and is expected to upsurge by 37% to 50% more than the present levels by the end of the century. “Increases in ocean acidity (measured by lower pH values) changes the balance of minerals in the water. This change makes it more difficult for corals, some types of plankton, and other organisms to produce calcium carbonate, which makes up and strengthens marine organisms’ hard skeleton sand shells.” This is a specific example of how the increase in acidity will make a difference. If animals like sea turtles and crabs cannot find shells to protect them they will soon end up on the endangered list, and lead to them becoming an easy prey, messing up the food chain.
After researching climate change I am extremely disappointed, I’m disappointed that we have let it get to this point, I am disappointed we are allowing our pollution to poison our earth. I am disappointed we aren’t taking climate change as serious as it is. I truly believe that climate change will be the end of our civilization. This may sound dramatic but think about it, climate change will cause ecosystems to collapse, causing communities that rely on fishing, and hunting, or any form of living off our natural resources to collapse. This will spread from environmental breakdown into economic breakdown. Slowly or quickly climate change will force us to adapt to many different changes, I don’t think we will be able to sustain our society when everything we know comes crashing down. This is why we must start paying climate change the attention it deserves as climate change is a manmade infection that’s currently impacting our home land, and it’s all do to us. We have polluted our fresh air, we have littered our green landscapes, we have puffed out spoiled gas into our atmosphere without realizing how extreme these mistakes would be. We need to start trying to cure this epidemic before it’s too late. I’m very happy I was given this article because I was uneducated on climate change just like many others, but now I know how big of an impact it is making and the more people who can become educated on this topic will help to prevent further damage.