A Momentary Break in the Long Battle: The Fight to Prevent Irreversible Climate Damage

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Shopping Bags on Table Top

Ethan Rotko, Staff Writer

Climate change is a tremendous issue that has worsened in the last few decades, affecting millions of people.  Carbon dioxide emissions have skyrocketed with global temperatures rising at shockingly high rates.  However, COVID-19 has caused a massive reduction of corporate and consumer gas emissions due to less frequent travel and lockdowns.  The climate is reaping the benefits.  Overall, climate change has been temporarily slowed, but if we are not careful, it will spike when the pandemic ends.

The lockdown has caused a huge decrease in aircraft and car emissions, mainly due to a large percentage of people on the globe being relegated to inside their houses.  As a result, travel has greatly decreased.  However, there are still too many unknowns for scientists to project annual emissions because of the pandemic. 

  “It makes sense that carbon dioxide emissions have gone down with everyone staying at home, but when this is over, they may come back worse than ever, so really, this isn’t sustainable progress,” says junior Davis Choi.

Despite the emissions reductions so far this year, legislative and economic progress regarding climate change has slowed to a crawl. Legislation in the United States that would have allowed for a public fund, fueled by public and private investors, to be created to refocus the United State’s energy projects and policies, has come to a relative halt.  The aim of such a fund would be to fight rising temperatures and carbon emissions, as well as combat pollution and wastefulness of natural resources.  Unfortunately, this idea and other possible legislative policies, have been put on an indefinite hold.  

“We’re running out of time, and we need to be more hands-on. Action needs to be taken before it’s too late,” said sophomore Chloe Fanous.

In New York State, a plastic bag ban was supposed to go into effect on March 1, but that was stalled due to the pandemic.  In August, New York finally went through with the ban, a huge win for environmental activists and strategists.  This illustrates how some states are getting back on target and making progress in the fight against climate change. 

Although COVID-19 has delayed some work towards a greener planet, focus should be placed on providing clean energy through wind, solar, nuclear, and geothermic power.  

“We can reduce the use of unnecessary fossil fuels and convert to clean energy,” said sophomore T.J. Brodsky.

With the coronavirus bringing fear of what would happen to the world in the event of irreversible climate damage, now is the time to invest money in clean energy and pass green legislation.  Environmental issues are of the utmost importance, and we cannot afford to slow down the fight. The world is moving closer and closer to a permanently altered climate that will lead to the extinction of many species, and it is difficult to understand how much damage humans have caused.

“If we don’t help fix climate change now, then one day the ice caps will melt, and we might not be able to live on Earth anymore,” said sophomore Zoe Edelblum.

While this is the worst potential scenario, it is certainly within the realm of possibility.  With temperatures falling during the pandemic and air quality becoming cleaner than before, the positive trend in climate change and global warming  must be continued.  Environmental legislation should be passed with a new found ferocity, so humans can avoid the type of catastrophe we are living through today.

 Hopefully, once the coronavirus pandemic has ended and precautions are lifted, state and federal governments will expedite the process of taking action that climate change demands.  Regardless, these lockdowns have demonstrated that the world can dramatically reduce emissions and still keep going when citizens try hardest.  Now, it is our job to pair this progress with additional green infrastructure to save the world from a brutal fate.