Most articles about climate change usually have to start with a defense of current scientific theory, or else assume that not everyone is on board with the article and tiptoe around claims. But millennials seem to be pretty okay with talking about global warming — 3/4 of them believe it to be factual. Millennials are attempting to earn the title of the “greenest generation.”
The climate talks being held in Paris right now are then very important to Millennials. We care about the environment. We care about taking steps to create a more sustainable future. In an age of increasing connection and a generation that’s taking that connection to a whole new level, we care about over 190 countries gathering to discuss a common goal.
America is at a disadvantage in these global talks because so many see America as too fractured over the issue. The rest of the world seems to be whole-heartedly plunging themselves into saving the planet, and we need to be a part of it too. We look at countries like China and their pollution problems, expecting them to fix their pollution while we ignore our own. But the U.S. releases more carbon per capita than almost any other country in the world.
But are these Paris talks just too little too late? Can global warming actually be solved by a room full of politicians?
Millennials are distrustful of big government trying to correct climate change, instead hoping for a more grassroots movement. To further complicate matters, scientists are now saying that there needs to be immediate, drastic change if the effects of climate change are to be reversed.
So what do we need to do to get this done? It’s not going to be easy. Some say that we have just under a decade to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and in order to get this done we may have to leave all remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Here’s a list of 15 things we could do in order to combat climate change, which involve relatively simple fixes like increasing fuel efficiency in cars or at least making an effort to providing cleaner energies like solar panels.
But it’s not all bad news. Reports say that emissions of carbon dioxide fell in 2014, which is the first time they’ve dropped in a year with economic growth. These Paris talks are also cause for celebration. Detractors will note the failed 2009 Copenhagen talks, in which no real deal was reached and the attending countries scrambled for an accord that accomplished virtually nothing. But this time, the talks are leaving out heads of state. Last time they swept in at the last minute and came up with a limp agreement, but the aim is to prevent this from happening again.
And unlike the disastrous Kyoto Protocol that was legally binding, these Paris talks are based on voluntary goals submitted by each participating country. This approach means that the supporting countries will a) be able to achieve their submitted goals b) be more willing to submit to something they proposed themselves and c) lead to a more unified agreement.
This agreement, however, may be just too little too late. Sure we’re getting more done than ever before, but it still might not be enough. There has been a lot of talk about the 2 degree limit in these talks, in which the attending countries hope to limit the global earth temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-Industrial measurements. But if you look at the chart, you can see that this probably won’t happen. 2 degrees is where we start feeling greater effects from climate change.
This information is discouraging, but we shouldn’t forget the progress that can and will be made as a result of this meeting. There is great transparency and financial incentives involved, meaning that some good will come from this deal.
So what should you do?
1) Start by reducing your own carbon footprint. It’s easy to forget that you matter when huge countries talk about reducing emissions over decades. So start with yourself first.
2) Get involved. Keep up with the Paris talks. Read the news, get the facts. If you need help talking about some of the more sciency things, here’s a great resource for discussing climate change.
3) Write Congress and tell them to fund this project. Part of the agreement will be giving money to developing countries to help them. Going Green isn’t easy, and we’re all in it together.
This is an exciting time to be a young person. We’re part of the generation that will start to turn back decades of abuse. It’s a scary thing for sure, but also an important one. What other issue do you see 190 countries gathering to discuss with one purpose? The Paris talks won’t save us, and they’re not meant to. But maybe, just maybe, they’ll encourage the world to start being a little more caring for the fate of our planet.
Feature Image: Flickr