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.
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.
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.