Lien: Climate Change Won’t Go Away Without Our Help


(Chronicle Design Archives)

By Kayla Lien, Opinion Writer


On Earth Day, climate activist Wynn Alan Bruce self-immolated in front of the Supreme Court to protest the inaction done regarding climate change. The media almost totally ignored Bruce’s death, with others calling the coverage “muted.”

On April 6, three scientists belonging to Scientist Rebellion handcuffed themselves to a JP Morgan Chase building in LA to protest the bank’s funding of fossil fuel projects, and at least 100 cops in riot gear removed them.

Recently, climate change protests have increased in number and attendance. With each new and dismal report, climate change grows in imminence. With consequences other than melting polar ice caps, climate change warrants immediate action as it affects everything.

Climate Change in Utah

Climate change in Utah can cause more than droughts and a higher fire hazard. We may see an increase in the likelihood of other natural hazards, such as avalanches, landslides and flooding. The physical health of many individuals is also at stake. A warming planet can induce higher rates of respiratory diseases, while high heat and low precipitation fosters the growth of allergens and can trigger respiratory illnesses.

Andrea Brunelle, Chair of the Department of Geography at the University of Utah, said that “as temperatures rise, and there’s these heat waves, people will just die from heat because they can’t cool themselves down.” Brunelle believes that global warming “is the most urgent problem that we need to deal with globally, right now.”

Utah’s economy isn’t safe either. The ski industry and the agricultural industry are already in danger, and mountain guides feel climate change’s effects in their workspace. A study from Nature Reviews Earth and Environment claims our mountain ranges could see little to no snow in 35 to 60 years, which could drastically curb the billion dollar ski industry. With the loss of snow comes the loss of potable water, and we already deal with the drought.

Mental Health

Aside from physical consequences of global warming, climate change can harm a person’s mental health. Climate grief (or ecological/environmental grief) describes the feelings of loss and sadness stemming from the state of the world, as well as the grief felt in relation to experienced or anticipated ecological losses. The high risk groups for this psychological reaction are young people, Indigenous communities and environmental scientists. Evidence colludes to climate change as a source of “increased behavioral and mood disorders, depression and anxiety, suicide ideation and suicide,” among other mental illnesses.

Opposite climate grief is “climate apathy,” a form of climate change denial suggesting that global warming doesn’t matter and prioritizes convenience over sustainability. In a study done by the European Social Survey, an “overwhelming majority” of participants accepted climate change as an issue and acknowledged that it started because of humans, but most didn’t care to change their behavior and had no strong concerns regarding the issue. Climate apathy can convince a population of the unimportance of global warming, posing a threat to those working towards alleviating the issue.

The People with Power

As a detrimental problem, climate change doesn’t matter to those who have resources to help reverse it. For example, Elon Musk claimed that climate change is “the biggest threat that humanity faces this century.” However, he turned down a climate change collaboration with Bill Gates because Gates allegedly “shorted” Tesla on half a billion dollars. He also “dismissed the idea of improving existing public transit,” which could improve air quality, accessibility and traffic safety.

Other powerful and wealthy people who make grand announcements about saving the planet continue to act shadily behind the scenes. Jeff Bezos pledged that he would commit $10 billion to combat climate change through grants, which is only 7% to 8% of his total income. Furthermore, the source of his wealth pursues oil companies and drives greenhouse gas emissions higher.

In theory, these so-called philanthropists invest money to foster change and support sustainability. But in practice, none of their efforts pan out. Average people can and should do what they can toward living more sustainably, but the real pressure lies with those who have resources to aid climate change, including corporations that inevitably cause a worsening environment.

Climate change hurts the world and its imminent dangers are felt throughout many different communities of people. Those who can help the planet should contribute to climate activism more than the average person. Brunelle said, “The way that [climate change has] been portrayed historically, as more of a debate, has been misleading to the general public, and it makes them feel like they get to have an opinion on it. They can decide to care or not, but it’s happening, whether they want to believe it or not.”


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