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In 1950, the matter was entirely peripheral, existing only in the minds of science fiction writers and a few unheralded scientists. In 1990 it was still, to most, utterly implausible. By 2001 a handful of plucky voices were expressing the opinion that it somehow COULD be possible. Then, almost overnight, other voices clamoured to suggest it wasn’t just possible, but highly probable. Today, it seems, we are resigning to the fact that the inconvenient truth is in fact true. Climate change is right upon our doorstep, staring into us like some giant awakening from his slumber, unable to contain his anger any longer, offended by the constant prodding and poking to his side.
We occupy the driest inhabited continent with a highly variable climate and great susceptibility to weather change. Predictions of fiercer droughts and more frequent storms invade our media and perhaps our consciousness. The future will be the disappearance of Australian wildlife due to the increasing temperatures affecting their environments. The warmer waters may cause the death of the Great Barrier Reef, placing thousands of species of plants and animals in danger. The outlook of Australia’s future is bleak. The most worrying environmental threat of our time is unfolding.
Yes we’ve all heard about it, and I’m sure, politely listened to all the things they say about global warming and so on. But have we taken it seriously enough? Yes, we all have other ‘more important’ things to worry about. But we must realise that the threat of climate change is no less than the threat of losing your job, or the threat of a car collision.
The economic costs of climate change, for starters, will kill us – loss of tourism, loss of jobs, loss of fish, farmers battling and food prices through the roof. Climate Change is wreaking havoc, and its not going anywhere anytime fast.
We’ve all heard about Climate Change and its disastrous effects, but what exactly causes it? And what can we do about it? Global warming is the heating up of our world. It is the result of huge amounts of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere, via the burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil to produce power and electricity and thousands and thousands of products, from plastic to makeup to the clothes that we wear.
Ever since the beginning of the century, we have been progressively burning more and more fossil fuels. In fact the average Australian generates eighteen tons of carbon emissions per capita. Thus, to save the planet and cleanse our resource sins, Australia must go far beyond freezing greenhouse gas emissions. As a nation, we must reduce emissions by more than ninety per cent.
We are all global citizens. We all have access to information, facts, figures and statistics that undeniably prove climate change exists. We all depend on our earth – for clean air, for food and water, for resources, for our livelihoods. We are all consumers. We are all contributing to climate change. We are all responsible for our actions. We are all obligated to do something about it.
If not to save our own skins, think about our children, and our children’s children. Do we want them to inherit a devastated world, knowing full well that we contributed to its destruction? Do we want to be the generation that could have done something real, but instead chose to continue down this selfish road of pollution, alarming consumption and total disregard for the world we live in? It’s not so much self-glorification as self-preservation.
Although we are not the ones creating the energy, we are the ones consuming the energy. The amount of energy produced is a direct proportion of the amount we demand. The average Australian household uses nine thousand kW per year. The amount of energy use is incredible and reducing it is a vital step towards stopping the onslaught climate change brings.
Transportation. How many of you own more than two cars? How many of you live on a bus route, but do not travel on one? How many of you drive to the shops even if it’s only a five-minute walk away? The car has become such an integral part of society that we’ve taken it for granted. We just don’t know the harm that it’s causing. There are many alternative options of transport that can significantly reduce carbon emissions and it is up to us, humanity to reduce it. But if we do not use these alternatives, we can only expect the worst for the future.
It is our responsibility to put pressure on the government to enforce legislation to limit the amount of CO2 emissions produced by industries that produce raw goods, electricity and consumer products. And to commit to formal reduced emissions targets like the Kyoto Protocol. Let the Australian government know that polar bears living in the dwindling ice sheets of the Arctic aren’t the only ones skating on thin ice.
If we are to make a serious attempt at reversing the severe harm caused by climate change we must not only change the way energy is produced, but also severely reduce the amount of energy we consume. We do not need to make huge sacrifices for the cause of lowering emissions, but when every single small reduction in energy consumption is put to process on a national scale, the decrease in carbon emissions becomes dramatic.
If one million households replaced four traditional light bulbs with the more energy efficient fluorescent variety, we could eliminate approximately five hundred thousand tonnes of carbon emissions per year. If we work together, results like these can be achieved, but we must be unified in our fight to save the Australian environment.
Another method of significantly reducing transport emissions is carpooling. The average commuter creates 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and sharing your car with one other person will effectively halve this figure and create another step towards creating a stable climate. But it is up to you to take these actions. Using public transport instead of driving will also significantly reduce emissions and it is your duty as an inhabitant of this planet to do so. These are practical, feasible ways in which every single one of us can make a huge difference when we work together for the greater good.
Imagine a future where smog and acid rain dominate the skyline, a horrific environment where billions of people are exposed to cancerous diseases, where our delicate flora and fauna have been depleted severely. It’s just not worth it.
Now picture a future where the skies are clear and the air is clean. A world of symbiosis. Of cooperation. Of humanity. A world where our children, and our children’s children can look back at our generation and be proud of us making a change. Which future do you want?If you, like I, chose the latter, we must act. The threat is real. The facts are undeniable, but a bleak future is certainly NOT inevitable. We can prevent it, but again, we MUST act. And we must ALL act, for the future, and for Australia.
Bibliography: Heinamann Geography Textbook, Nicholas Onie