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Earth Day can instill interest in environment

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It’s April of 2019, and the Midwest just got hit by another “Bomb Cyclone.” Yes, that’s correct. It’s spring according to the calendar, but it seems like Mother Nature  has other plans. The nation’s Midwest is experiencing unprecedented spring storms. Climate change is a real thing.  Despite the opinion of naysayers, the climate is experiencing extreme fluctuations. Recently, Los Angeles County witnessed in less than three months historic and deadly wildfires followed almost immediately by record rain and flooding.  Ice sheets are melting. Just beyond the Antarctic Peninsula lies, what scientists are calling, an “iceberg graveyard.”

In the Scotia Sea, many of the icebergs escaping from Antarctica have begin to melt, depositing sediment from the continent that has been trapped in the ice onto the seafloor. This occurrence has encouraged researchers to study more about how the Earth has reacted during warmer periods. They are drilling in the region to target several periods when the climate is thought to have warmed dramatically.

One is a warm period in the middle Pillocene about 3.3 million ago, when average global temperatures were two to three degrees warmer than today. Another region there represents the end of a more recent ice age about 130,000 years ago, when sea levels rose by about five to nine meters.

Such periods, researchers believe, may serve as analogs to the continent’s future behavior due to anthropogenic global warming. Currently, the global average temperatures on Earth are projected to increase by between about 1.5 degrees and 4 degrees Celsius relative to preindustrial times, depending on greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere over the next few decades. These and other scientific findings have placed an increased spotlight on the perils of climate change.

If Earth reaches the 2 degree Celsius mark, we are pretty much in limbo. The last time Mother Earth was this warm as it is now, was 11,000 years ago. The Earth wouldn’t just be hotter than currently, it would be a lot drier as well. Which would impact economies, as well as infrastructure, and agriculture, not to mention weather patterns. Rising temperatures will affect sea levels — which it’s already happening — that will cause small islands and low-lying coastal regions to disappear in the ocean. Ecosystems, as well as species that are unable to adapt, will be irreparably damaged and disappear altogether.

The person who set the 2 degree Celsius mark was an economist. Dr. William Nordhaus saw the warming planet as dangerous and a threat to the global economy. That was in 1975. He was convinced that an increase in the global average temperature of 2 degree Celsius (which is caused by man-made carbon dioxide, that we are able to control or maintain at least) will change our climate for the next 100,000 years.

Closer to home, the southland has received  heavier rainfall this year than in all of 2018, according to WeatherNation TV. Even snow made an appearance. And the last time it snowed in L.A. was in 1962. Las Vegas was also dusted in white powder, which left many locals and tourists in confusion, and somewhat in fear of what is still to come in the near future.

Earth Day is on April 22. The theme this year is “Protect Our Species” and places a focus on endangered species such as bees, elephants, and sharks just to name a few. You might think, “Bees? Really?” Yes. The little honey-makers are also threatened by climate change, as well as the wide use of pesticides, neonicotinoids, and GMOs. However, pests, diseases, viruses, and mold also have an impact on the lives of bees and their natural way of making honey. We can make a difference however pl;acing more focus on the environment and by urging lawmakers to protect the Endangered Species Act.

Other species, such as elephants, have been an endangered species for decades, thanks to poachers. But elephants–as well  as any other animal on Mother Earth–are also impacted by climate change. However, overpopulation by humans can result in habitat loss and puts them much closer to humans, which can lead to more elephant killings. Individuals can help here as well by joining the movement to stop the trade of ivory (China has the biggest market for illegal ivory trade, by the way), but also not participating in any entertainment that involves elephants, such as circuses, or back riding in zoos or tourist destinations, which can help extend their lives..

Since “Jaws” made its debut in the late ‘70s, sharks, especially Great Whites, don’t have a great reputation. Yes, sharks are the top predator in the ocean, but they are important for the marine ecosystem by providing balance. And although shark-attacks are rare, an average of 100 million sharks were killed each year, between the years 2000 and 2010. Hunting and finning are the number one deaths of sharks, followed by losing habitat due to climate change as well, or becoming “bycatch” which means they accidentally get caught when fishers bottom trawl tightly-woven mesh nets, that are thrown onto the bottom of the sea. It’s also one of the worst ways to catch fish. In order to protect the sharks, reducing plastic usage is one of the biggest factors, as well as to boycott the finning and hunting of sharks.

Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated globally to make environmental change. Earth Day is a movement that connects the world’s leaders in politics, scientists, and environmental activists to raise awareness, and act now in order to prevent catastrophic climate related issues in the near future.

This yearly recognition of our environment has come a long way, leading to historic worldwide cooperation such as the Paris Accords signed by 194 countries and took full effect in 2016. Yet, some countries–including the United States–are still not on the same page.  According to a 2017 New York Times article, the United States has opted to walk away from certified evidence that climate change is a real threat to the wellbeing of all nations.

“…the United States has been burning coal, oil and natural gas far longer, and today the country, with just over four percent of the world’s population, is responsible for almost a third of the excess carbon dioxide that is heating the planet.”

China remains the world  leader in C02 emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, the United States actually decreased its carbon footprint from 2015 to 2016, from 4919.62 Metric (Mt) C02 down to China sits at 33.08 Mt C02. However, in comparison to the European Union, China and the U.S. are the source for future possible climate disasters, at least that’s what many scientists and environmental activists fear will happen in the next 50 years.

The celebration of Earth Day is an annual reminder to be more considerate of Mother Earth, and be cautious of recycling, as well as the use of energy. The overuse of air conditioning as well as refrigeration can contribute to environmental distress. Little things go a long way, such as running the air conditioning on “energy efficient” as well as turn it off when leaving the house for a few hours.

The problem continues to be the excessive emission of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs for short. It’s a man-made, chemical compound that traps a thousand times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Although  HFCs only contribute a small portion to greenhouse gas emissions, they persist in the environment for hundreds of years due to their high stability.

At home, the refrigerator can be a major contributor to the increase of daily HFC emissions. Keep the fridge temperatures on medium, and when buying a new one, look for energy saving options. What also helps is opening the refrigerator door to a minimum, not overstocking the fridge, as well as avoiding placing hot food inside. During the cold months, particularly in the Antelope Valley, it can be tempting to keep the thermostat above 70 degrees. Keeping the doors closed to various rooms can help to keep the interior warm–and also reduce the cost of ever-rising utility bills.

To find out more about Earth Day and how to participate, visit www.earthday.org.

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