In early October, the United Nations released a report stating we have just about a decade to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and avoid a global disaster.
A task this daunting seems almost too large to process. The enormity of it is only compounded by the unending news tornado of the last month, with election coverage, murders, tax returns, bombings and plane crashes.
Yet, for some, climate change has been an unavoidable topic, as hurricanes slam the South and fires rip through the West.
Does being affected by these natural disasters influence one’s views on climate change?
I spoke with four different individuals from across the country to find out.
“My initial impression is it’s harrowing to hear this, that things are going much worse than expected and the effects can be seen within my lifetime.”
Aarti Koll, 25, a researcher from the National Institute of Health explains how the severity of the report was shocking to her. Reading of how soon the effects of climate change could be realized, Koll is considering moving to a different area of the country in the future, for fear that the east coast, where she currently lives, could experience dire natural disasters.
“It’s been a really rough summer for us out here…there were 200 tons of dead fish that were washed ashore in Sarasota.”
Ben Myers, 47, moved to Sarasota, Florida to be closer to his family. Now, he says he witnesses the effects of climate change in his daily life. Some appear pleasant on the surface, such as the warmer water temperatures, but Myers says this is indicative of a significant problems. Other effects are far less enjoyable, such as the masses of dead marine life that have been washed ashore, causing an unavoidable stench that is abhorred by tourists and locals alike. This phenomenon, often attributed to red tide bloom, has worsened in recent years, and can have significant impacts on the tourism industry.
“Having read the report I found it a little extreme and extravagant. But I was also sitting there and thinking ‘would anyone take this report seriously if they hadn’t seen the dramatic side of things?'”
Samantha Francis, 24, is in law school in Charleston, South Carolina. She evacuated during Hurricane Florence, but her home was not damaged. In her opinion, the report is a bit overblown, and she doesn’t think she will see dramatic effects of climate change in her lifetime.
Additionally, Francis is confident those younger than she is are capable of working to solve this problem, saying they are more educated on the issue and prepared to present innovative solutions to this enormous problem.
“I wasn’t surprised. It’s obviously disappointing, but it didn’t rock me out of my seat…what I feel like this is doing is preparing me for catastrophe.”
Jake Bevis, 28, is a journalism master’s student at the University of Oregon. He was not shocked by the report, because he said climate change has been a “red alert situation” for some time now. He completely trusts the findings in the report, and as a result, is preparing for a global disaster.
He says there will feasibly be millions of environmental refugees if dramatic steps aren’t taken to reverse climate change, and he is preparing for catastrophic situations such as these.
There it is – four individuals, four geographic locations, and four very different perspectives on the UN report on climate change. Whether you’re preparing for the end of the world or think this report is strategically exaggerated, climate change has been thrust into an unavoidable spotlight with recent natural disasters. And for those directly impacted, it may seem that the dire situations described in the report won’t wait a decade, because they’ve already arrived.
Speak to you soon,
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