Tackling Climate Change

  • Mira Ravi ’22

During Christmas break, my friend Bella Summe ‘22 was in Australia, and on the last day of her vacation, she and her family were not able to go outside for more than an hour at a time because it was so smoky there. According to the New York Times, the recent Australian fires have consumed over 15 million acres of land, killed an estimated 50 percent of the koala population and 800 million animals in just New South Wales, and emitted around 400 million tons of carbon. Given the current climate crisis, this is terrible news.

Last year, there were hundreds of thousands of wildfires in California, the Amazon, and Australia. In the Amazon alone, there was a 75% increase in the number of forest fires compared to 2018. In California, there were over 7,680 wildfires in 2019, and in 2018, there were around 200 less wildfires. Wildfires have almost become “normal” to us in the past couple of years; the initial shock that people felt when they realized that fires were becoming more and more prevalent has faded away with time. So many people are talking about climate change right now, about the things we can do to fix the Earth. But I think that people are slowly accepting other issues related to climate change (like the fires) as an inevitable part of their reality.

According to New York Magazine, “the area burned each year by forest fires across the western United States will at least double” by 2050. It may seem a little strange that the number of fires will increase in the coming years, especially because a lot of people are really concerned about climate change, which wildfires contribute to by releasing large amounts of carbon. However, people think about climate change in such abstract terms that they are unable to recognize wildfires as an example of it. A lot of people also try to raise awareness about issues related to climate change through their Instagram stories, even though they might actually be contributing to climate change in their personal lives but still post about climate change to show that they “care” about it.

I’m not saying that people don’t care about the fires. In fact, I think that there are more than enough people who care about the fires in order to work towards effectively preventing them. The problem is that there are so many more people, myself included, who focus on issues that are really ambitious, and so they can’t recognize the issues closest to them, such as the fires, that may have more actionable solutions. For that reason, it’s important that we should not worry about climate change as a whole but rather focus on the smaller issues that are part of it.

Photo from the New York Times

By Axel de Vernou

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