By Aaron Ortega
As far back as I can remember, I’ve celebrated nearly every birthday shivering and draped in multiple layers of scarves, jackets and sweaters. I’ve always envied those with summer birthday parties, basking in the sun, as I begrudgingly scraped ice off my windshield on my way to my own celebration. Climate change may be the reason I celebrated my birthday this year in short sleeves, under a warm, February sun.
Polar bears, the poster child of the impact of global climate change, recently resurfaced throughout the media. On Feb. 27, International Polar Bear Day celebrated the world’s largest land carnivores and reminded people of their struggle for survival. According to www.polarbearsinternational.org , people were invited to help reduce their carbon footprints. By taking the “thermostat challenge,” which is exactly what it sounds like, and the SOS! (Save Our Sea Ice) Campaign, Polar Bear International introduced energy-saving efforts to help reduce human impact on climate change.
However, Zac Unger, author of “Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye,” may beg to differ. Unger, a self-proclaimed “hero of the environmental movement,” according to www.washingtontimes.com, may have offered some a rather different view on the belief that these snowy giants are shrinking in numbers. Initially, Unger set out to commemorate the mournful disappearance of polar bears due to global warming. But he found polar bear populations actually flourishing, with numbers higher than ever believed.
So what does this mean? Is global warming not as threatening to our planet’s species as one may suspect? It may depend on the species.
According to www.care2.com, the ocean’s pH level has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1. This may not seem like a significant drop, however it is taking its toll on shellfish, which rely on a stable pH level for shell structure. Crustaceans are then affecting industries that rely on them for farming.
But what does this have to do with part-time community college students, working two jobs and worrying about turning papers in on time or how much money they will have to buy food for the week? Brittle shellfish skeletons factor little into my day-to-day life.
However, the changing pH levels do serve as a humble reminder of what may lie before us in terms of climate change. There may be more threatening dangers ahead. The www.care2.com website cites a study in which scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory predicted a mega-drought striking Earth within the next eight years, marking the worst this planet has ever seen. Okay, now that’s more like it.
What concerns me are the steps being taken to reduce the impact of climate change. In 2009, according to www.usnews.com, a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed landmark climate change legislation; however a Democrat-controlled Senate failed to pass it in 2010. President Barack Obama is now making plans to move on legislation that would prevent any new coal plants from opening in the United States. Reducing carbon emissions may be at the forefront of this battle.
In Obama’s second inaugural speech, he suggested that a failure to respond to the threat of climate change would betray future generations. Obama said, “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, crippling drought and more powerful storms.”
Obama is poised to push through with the legislation, but there are those who still oppose the idea that changing American policy will make an impact on the threat of climate change. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) responded to Obama’s combative stance, stating the government can’t change the weather. Rubio said: “There are other countries that are polluting in the atmosphere much greater than we are at this point – China, India, all these countries that are still growing. They’re not going to stop what they’re doing.”
Good point, Rubio. I used the same tactic as a child regarding house cleaning. My sister’s not going to clean her room, so cleaning my room won’t make this a clean house. The damage is already done. Climate change is an inevitable danger that we as a planet must deal with far in the future. Nothing this college student should concern himself with right now.
Ultimately, the resurgence of polar bear population is great news. International Polar Bear Day serves as a reminder that maybe it’s time to start making drastic changes to America’s policies regarding lessening the threat of drastic climate change. Polar bears may be thriving, but we should probably start taking measures for our own species’ survival.