Is the end near?

The global warming debate may have been put to bed for good, after a recent scientific report that urges drastic changes to be made in order to prevent disaster in the near future.

“I think climate change has never been a priority because as a society we treated it as an opinion, rather than a factual thing,” Castleton University junior Raegan Kobbe said. “We act as if it’s something you believe in instead of something that is actually happening.”

Now, with the recent study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there should be more than enough evidence that global warming is, in fact, a real issue for not only the United States, but the world.

The IPCC released the study that was three years in the making. In it, they state that the earth has already warmed on average one degree from before the industrial revolution. If we let the earth get up to one and a half to two degrees warmer, there could be dire effects.

What exactly does this mean?

“If we are talking about raising the temperature of the whole atmosphere just one degree, that’s a tremendous amount of energy stored in the atmosphere that wasn’t there before,” said Castleton science professor Jean-Sebastian Gagnon. “What can you do with all this energy? A lot. All the storms, for instance, will have so much more energy.”

Even at our current state of the one-degree average, we are seeing the effects of human-caused global warming in rising seas levels and more extreme weather. According to the IPCC, coral reefs would virtually disappear should we let the Earth reach the two-degree mark.   

To fellow Castleton science professor Andrew Vermilyea, the report is, “a call out that we are not doing enough.”

What should we be doing to help the earth in hopes of not reaching irreversible climate change?

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” IPCC Co-chair Valerie Masson-Delmotte said in the report.

Recycling. Carpooling. Only using cars when absolutely needed. Anything people can do to reduce your carbon footprint and the carbon dioxide emissions they put out can help.

And this isn’t just a international issue. These are small things that students can do even on campus.

“Having students talking to Green Mountain Power to see what we can do to make renewable energy a bigger part of the electricity portfolio in Vermont,” Vermilyea said, offering an example of ways students can make a difference.

Global warming is an issue that needs to be addressed locally, state-wide and internationally, the scientists say.

“Awareness is a big factor because there is so much one person can do,” Kobbe, the Castleton junior, said.

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