Going Green and Gold: An Introduction

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February 7, 2016

8:15 PM

Predictions from Surging Seas for Hampton Court area suggest that with unchecked pollution, sea level rise could lead to a 20 percent annual risk of flooding above four feet by 2030, less than 15 years from now. Furthermore, the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment names Virginia Beach as one of the top most vulnerable coastal cities to sea level rise due to climate change. This includes damage from hurricane winds, flooding, shoreline erosion, and the tide literally creeping higher up the shore. Now, I know we may not live in Virginia Beach, but considering it is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia I think we all at least know someone from there.

If you have already decided it is too late for us and we might as well just give up now, I have one more bit of shocking information then I promise we will move away from the doomsday predictions. NASA’s interactive “Climate Time Machine” shows that in 2014, a huge majority of the world saw a climate increase up to 2 degrees Celsius. I would invite you to take a look at this “time machine” over the past twenty or so years and you will see the Earth warming at an alarming rate.

Figure 1 2014 Climate differences from NASA's Climate Time Machine

Figure 1 2014 Climate differences from NASA’s Climate Time Machine

Now that we are all on the same page with where our planet is currently going and we might be understandably pessimistic, I want to alter that view one more time. We can still influence the Earth’s trajectory. The fact that we have no recorded climate change from Earth’s history as dramatic as what we are having today indicates that we have definitely affected the recent climate history, but it is not too late to influence the future for the better; they are called predictions for a reason. Being astute college millennials, we have all likely seen many different examples of human interference with the environment and darkly joked about “that darn climate change” when the weather goes from snow storm to 70 degrees within a week, but I want to take this further. If we can look at these facts, take them in and just let them humble us a bit, I think we can learn from them and actually do something to change. Yes, these facts I mentioned on sea level rise and climate change sound pessimistic, but I am optimistic we can create enough change to alter our future Earth environment.

We can still influence the Earth’s trajectory.

I will be honest, sometimes looking at the state of our Earth and then how people around the world seem to dismiss it absolutely terrifies me. I think about the potential dystopia we could be living in 30 years from now and suddenly, I am having an existential crisis. How many animals will the next generation never see? How much higher will the risk factor for lung cancer be from air pollution? Some things, we may have to adjust to, but others we can still prevent. Everything has to start small at some point, and even if you do not plan on going out and lobbying for environmental rights with Greenpeace or whatnot, there are still ways to improve our situation.

I want to try to make information about environmental issues more accessible
What I want to do with this blog is bring to light little things people can do to be more environmentally aware. There is more to saving the planet than not driving your car or recycling that beer can and they are all so important. If I was telling you in person, I would be jumping up and down wildly gesturing. I know I may not be able to change everyone’s mind on “living green” – they may write me off as that Berkeley, California tree hugger – but I still want to try to make information about environmental issues more accessible. From recycling around campus and reducing your own personal carbon foot print to discussing limited resources and animal conservation around the world, I want to publicize it all as much as I can. If we are going to make a change, it needs to be more than just some scary topic people would rather not discuss.

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About Author

Johanna Flashman
  • Johanna Flashman

Associate Blogs Editor Jo Flashman '18 is an English major from Oakland, CA. Follow @Jos_wondering on Twitter.

  • Stuart M. Flashman

    The challenge of climate change is that, compared to things like smog and water pollution, the effects are hard to see and slow to take effect. Yet if we wait until the effects become more obvious, it will be too late to stop many of the catastrophic consequences. Also, this is a case where we have to act locally AND globally. If we just reduce our own “carbon footprint,” that won’t be enough. Our community, our city, our state, our country, and our world ALL need to reduce their carbon footprints for disaster to be prevented. A truly Herculean task, but a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.