We must start listening to scientists about the effects of climate change

Gabby Sanchez

President Obama has made many crucial decisions in an effort to leave a lasting legacy on the fight against climate change. He’s made efforts to switch the nation to clean energy, and earlier this month he signed the Paris Climate Accord in China, along with President Xi Jinping.

Last Thursday, he established the world’s largest national marine reserve off the coast of Hawaii, expanding the area to 582,578 square miles, over twice the size of Texas.

And yet, despite his strides to bring climate change to the forefront, many Americans still refuse to accept that it exists. With the presidential election right around the corner, Obama’s work may crumble under the leadership of someone who does not believe in the science backing climate change. We as citizens can no longer continue to speculate on whether climate change is real. Not listening to scientists and facts does not stop the catastrophic effects that occur across the globe already.

As the oceans continue to warm up, torrential storms like the ones in Louisiana that resulted in the death of 13 people are more likely to happen. The bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef due to higher sea temperatures threatens the life that calls the reef home. Geography professor Kenneth Young sees changes happening in the mountainous areas of Peru he studies that endanger the livelihood of the people who inhabit it.

“The glaciers have retreated anywhere from 30–50 percent, I mean, half of the glaciers in southern Peru and Bolivia are gone,” Young said. “Where I’m working, you get two crops a year if you have glaciers, and you get one crop a year if you have no glaciers.”

He advises those who are still skeptics of climate change or want to do more about it to travel.

“As soon as you leave the U.S. this whole thing of denying climate change just disappears, it is a political phenomenon that has to do with our two party system,” Young said. “As soon as you get to Europe, as soon as you get to South America, people just say climate change.”

However, in some aspects it’s too late. Even if we all change the way that we live to be more sustainable, changes are already happening. Since the start of his climate change course in 2002, Young has transitioned from teaching his students how to alleviate the effects of climate change to learning to adapt to what is to come.

“We can still do mitigation, and sign some agreements and stuff, but we’re already dealing with higher sea levels.” Young said. “So it’s obvious that we already have to adapt, we can’t just sit around and wait.”

This doesn’t mean that we should give up and continue our ways without remorse. We can still live in a more sustainable way and reduce the amount to greenhouses gases that we create every day. We still have the responsibility to care for the place that we call home, and encourage our politicians to make legislation that reflects these ideals.

Sanchez is a journalism freshman from Round Rock.