Scientists conducted the tests and obtained results. They knew what was happening, but very little has been done. Why?
According to the American Institute of Physics, the first time climate change was observed was in the 1800s. Due to the first Industrial Revolution, coal, railroads, and land clearing accelerated the movement of greenhouse gas emissions. This caused the Earth’s surface to warm.
Global warming is a problem because it adversely affects life as we know it. It changes the environment in such a way that it can cause epidemics, famine, sea level rise and even extinction of some species.
Examples of greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ozone. Even though scientists have the facts, not everyone believes the global phenomenon. The scientific community and some sections of the public have divided opinions. As reported by a poll conducted by a team from Yale University, only 63 percent of Americans believed that global warming was real as of 2013. Even though 37 percent of non believers is not a big number, very little has been done so far to help reduce the effects of climate change.
Now, in the 21st Century, people around the world are waking up to the effects of climate change and trying to figure out what they can do to mitigate its harmful consequences.
It’s fine to debate what causes climate change. In fact I think questioning the statements made by scientists is a very American thing to do; It is part of the scientific process.
However it is equally important to read the research and understand for oneself what causes climate change and global warming.
None of us should hold views that we cannot substantiate without research backing it. And research does show that human activity plays a significant role in climate change and we need to do something before it changes life as we know it.
We cannot wait till this debate about the causes of climate change is completed. It may never be completed. And meanwhile global warming is happening all around us.
There is no disputing the fact that the Earth is getting warmer. This warming is melting the ice in the polar regions causing sea levels to rise. And sea level rise is one thing that we can all agree on. You don’t have to go far to see it happening. Just go to Miami Beach on a full moon night or to any other low-lying area on the coast in Miami-Dade County and you can see it right in front of you. No need for research, no need for debates; it’s happening!
The sea level has increased eight inches since 1880 and with another six inches, half of South Florida’s coast is vulnerable to flooding. It’s that simple. This is not something that is happening in Africa that one can donate a dollar for and forget about it. It is happening all around us and requires a sustained effort by all to contain it and deal with its consequences.
A significant portion of Florida’s population lives on the coast. Living on the coast means a great ocean view and waking up to a beautiful sunrise. All of this may be in danger with sea level rising. The risk of a storm surge has doubled. Salt water is starting to make its way through the drinking water supplies and canals are having a very hard time trying to drain the ocean water.
The value of properties that are located at the coast are only going to decline. No one is going to want to live there because of the increase in sea level.
Other climate change effects such as an increase in temperature and the rate of mosquito-borne illnesses will give people more reasons to stay away from South Florida.
All of Miami, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Pinecrest in particular have much to worry about sea level rising. A significant portion of the Grove, Gables and Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay is at less than 6 feet above sea level. This puts it at great risk from storm surges and flooding. One flood may ravage our beautiful community. The salt water may make homes uninhabitable and we may lose the greenery that makes our communities so uniquely beautiful.
In addition to sea level rise, Miamians also have to think about the harmful health effects of global warming and climate change. Harmful UV rays that are emitted from the sun can cause sunburns. Nowadays it is so important that people wear sunscreen because what may be a simple sunburn can be the nidus for melanoma in the future. Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer.
In addition global warming increases the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue, malaria and zika. We are already seeing these diseases becoming more prevalent in South Florida over the past few years.
People around the world are waking up to the realities of global warming and sea level rise.
We in South Florida need to get more involved. Over the last two years I started learning more about climate change and global warming. And I realized that it’s my generation, generation Z, that needs to stand up and do something about it. We are the ones who have to live with the consequences of climate change and global warming for the rest of our lives.
There are many things we can do about it. Actions involve persuading the government to implement laws that reduce emission of greenhouse gases. Individuals are doing many things such as going vegan or vegetarian, reducing the amount of gas, electricity, and water that they use.
To make sure there are more supporters against climate change, many organizations are being formed. Members of the CLEO Institute, Zero Hour, the 305 club, etc. are all taking time and effort to reduce the effects of climate change and to get the government to do something about the problem. I am apart of the GenCLEO movement of the CLEO Institute and our mission is to empower students to take climate action. I became a member of the GenCLEO movement through my project Citro Life which is a project in which citronella or other citrus plants are planted to reduce the prevalence of mosquito-borne illnesses.
This project is valuable due to the increase in global temperatures which causes for more places around the world, such as Miami, to create suitable habitats for mosquitoes to breed.
I gave a speech about my project at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce Breakfast in April. Recently, I volunteered at the Zero Hour Miami Climate Summit on July 12-14. I listened to speakers such as Greta Thunberg (the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden) and our own Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava among others.
Recently, on the occasion of the climate strike by youth all over the world, I was one of the six featured youth speakers at the strike in Miami Beach.
The state of Florida and Miami Dade County are making some efforts to deal with this issue. However, I think we need to do much more, and start doing it now rather than wait and be sorry later. Climate activists, such as myself, are doing whatever possible to take climate action and make a great change in the community.
It is time that more people in the community get involved and take action to ensure that our generation and upcoming ones have a future in South Florida. It is time that we start talking about climate change and global warming to our students. This is a global problem but with a tremendous local impact! I am going to do my bit to make a difference in my community. Will you join me ?
Maya Gowda is a 14-year-old freshman at Gulliver Preparatory School in Pinecrest. In addition to playing tennis for her school, she is a youth activist involved in educating her peers about climate change and its effects. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.