Climate Change Poses Real, Irreversible Risks

by Noah Anderson

Noah Anderson, a 10th grade student at WUHS, recently delivered the following speech on the Woodstock Green as part of a student walkout to raise awareness about global warming.

I want you to imagine yourself in 11 years: where you’ll be living, what you hope to have accomplished, how the world might change. That may sound like a lot of time, it is for me—75 percent of my life, but what if I told you that in 11 years, the effects of climate change will be irreversible?

If that sounds bleak, it’s because it is. By 2030 the world will reach 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit of warming since the onset of the Industrial Revolution. This seemingly small temperature change comes with a myriad of effects, ranging from economic to ecological to the safety and wellbeing of our communities. Global warming increases the frequency and severity of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, heatwaves, which from 2007 to 2016 cost the U.S. 240 billion dollars annually. By 2030, these costs will increase by half, to $360 billion dollars if no action is taken.

Infectious diseases, such as malaria, will spread farther due to increased living range for their host species. Continued burning of fossil fuels will lead to a larger number of people living with chronic respiratory illnesses. Droughts in the Middle East will increase, causing more sporadic rainfall and exacerbate world hunger. Sea-level rise due to ice melt in the arctic will cause the displacement of the hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts. Human life will change permanently, and not for the better.

The exploitation of the Earth’s resources is nothing new. Mankind has always believed that we are entitled to use of the earth’s resources. There is a concept in Judaism, known as Bal Taschit, that teaches that mankind’s right to the land does not include a license to abuse it. It is based on the idea that during wartime the invading army must not destroy fruit-bearing trees and other plants. I’m not overly pious, nor do I use my faith to form or justify my opinions. However, I believe in the continuation of tradition, especially when that tradition aligns with the betterment and continuation of humanity. This idea—Bal Taschit—tasks me with the conservation and idea that natural resources are to be used, but in a responsible manner.

Climate Change has always been a topic of significance for me. As I became more aware about the specifics of climate change, and learned that the timeframe that we have to work in is increasingly limited, I realized that I needed to take action. I joined a local non-profit organization—Change the World Kids. It’s a teen-run service non-profit focused on sustainability. Each year, Change the World Kids sends a small group to Costa Rica to further reforestation efforts in the country. These trees serve two purposes: to serve as habitat for endangered species and to help offset carbon emissions. Since we started reforestation in Costa Rica—about 15 years ago—we have reforested thousands of acres. Just last year, we planted over 3,000 trees over the span of 10 days.

Locally, I have begun work on a sustainability effort among local businesses, mainly targeted at the reduction of single-use plastics, which not only do considerable harm to the environment when discarded, but also are incredibly harmful to manufacture.

We are hovering at a tipping point. One from which we may never return. I’ve laid out a dark image of the future, but it does not have to be this way. If we begin efforts to transition to renewable energy sources right now, we can mitigate the effects of global warming and save millions of lives. That is why I urge Senator Leahy to co-sponsor the 100 by ’50 act that was introduced last congress under the number S.987, should it be reintroduced. That is why I would like to thank Senator Sanders/Representative Welch for co-sponsoring the 100 by ’50 act during the last Congress under the number S.987/H.R.3314 and urge them to once again co-sponsor the act should it be reintroduced. Thank you for your time.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on how we can work together to address climate-change, I can be reached at nla46485@gmail.com.

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