Hope for Our Planet
Huntington Beach, CA
2018, Middle School, Prose
The ocean. It is a magical place full of beautiful creatures and wonderful sights. So tell me this: if the ocean is so extraordinary, why are we killing it? Scientists have put in so much time, money, and energy into exploring the depths of the ocean. Also, some people just go to the beach and have fun playing in the ocean. Not to mention, organisms in the ocean provide the majority of our oxygen supply. Yet for some unimaginable reason, we are destroying it. We do things every day that contribute to climate change, killing our wonderful planet.
Every day, we make choices, and many of those choices harm the environment. To make matters worse, we typically make the wrong choices because of laziness or greed. Think about it… Should I pay a few extra dollars for a reusable bag, or just pay a few cents for a plastic one? Well, it is only one plastic bag, how harmful could it be? Wrong! Each and every piece of plastic we use harms the environment. It is estimated that “as many as five ounces of carbon dioxide are emitted for each ounce of polyethylene (PET) produced…” (Glazner). Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which means it contributes to climate change. Climate change is a prodigious threat to the ocean, and it is “caused primarily by human activity” (Effects of Climate Change). The production of plastic releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Therefore, we must stop using so much single-use plastic. Plastic is a big problem, but we can fight it by using reusable materials.
Burning fossil fuels is extremely destructive and is “the primary driver of global climate change” (The Causes). When fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, are burned, they produce emissions. These emissions are responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases create the greenhouse effect, which is basically a giant ¨blanket¨ that covers Earth. The ¨blanket¨ keeps gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing the temperature to rise. Even though fossil fuels are deleterious, we depend on them. Fossil fuels provide heat, electricity, fuel, and much more. However, we need to find a way to function without burning these fuels. Obviously, the burning of fossil fuels is a main cause of climate change.
Another primary cause of climate change is agriculture. Many do not realize, but agriculture is extremely harmful to the environment. Agriculture causes deforestation, which “produces about 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions” (Earth Day Network). Also, raising cows is a huge problem. Cows produce methane, a greenhouse gas that “is roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas” (Science Daily). Many people think that carbon dioxide is the worst emission, but it is actually methane. Cows release about 76-92 million metric tons. As you can see, agriculture has a devastating effect on our environment. So next time you are craving a steak or a tall glass of milk, think again. If we lessen the demand for cow products by not having them once in a while, less will be supplied. Fewer cows will be raised and less land will be cleared for them. Clearly, agriculture is a main cause of climate change.
Agriculture, plastic production, and the burning of fossil fuels lead to greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are the number one cause of climate change, and many of the other causes result in greenhouse gases being released. The bottom line is that if we want to stop climate change, we need to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases that are being emitted. In order to do that, there needs to be less agricultural practices, less plastic produced, less burning of fossil fuels, and less of all the other industrial activities that we depend on. You may be wondering why I keep saying we need to lessen these activities instead of stopping them. Right now, it is impossible for everyone to just stop burning fossil fuels, producing plastic, or practicing agriculture. We cannot go cold turkey. Humans still rely on these activities for food, fuel, and many other things we take for granted. Not to mention, numerous people would lose their jobs if we just stopped doing everything that produces greenhouse gases. While we cannot stop the production of greenhouse gases, we can lessen it. We can cut down the number of cows raised and land cleared. Also, we can have less plastic made and less fossil fuels burned. Eventually, we can prevent greenhouse gases from being released altogether, but it must be a gradual transition. To sum up, greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change, and we must lessen the amount of them that are emitted.
Climate change is happening, whether we like it or not. However, we can stop its progression by reducing our carbon footprint. In order to do that, we need to be aware. So many people do not actually know about climate change or what is causing it. They say that it is the warming of Earth and is caused by pollution. That is the truth, but it is not the whole truth. Many people do not know the effects of climate change other than Earth’s rising temperature. Also, they do not know what the pollution is or where it’s coming from. Countless people, including some politicians, just mention climate change to sound intelligent and aware of the problems Earth faces, but they do not actually know about climate change. In fact, some people do not even believe in climate change, even though there is scientific data proving that it is real. Climate change is the main threat to our beautiful planet, and our leaders do not even know about it. This must change if we want our planet to survive. Many people are fighting for change, and we need all the help we can get. Everyone must realize “that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children…” (Berry). We are borrowing the Earth from future generations, and we need to help protect and save it. Otherwise, our great-grandkids will be swimming in an ocean filled with plastic, breathing in polluted air, and living on a hot planet. We cannot let this happen. We will not let this happen.
The effects of climate change are appalling. Climate change melts glaciers, causing countless lives to be lost. Polar bears are starving to death because they do not have enough ice to hunt on. Also, as the ice melts, sea levels will rise and flood coastal cities. In addition, the ocean’s temperature is rising because it is absorbing greenhouse gases that are in the atmosphere. A hotter ocean will result in multiple tropical storms. The entire food web could be messed up as well. The large amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean is creating ocean acidification. As the ocean is becoming more acidic, shells are starting to dissolve. Animals that wear shells will no longer have that protection. Also, coral reefs are dying because of the warming waters. As the coral dies, other animals lose their shelter and protection, messing up the food web. In addition, some areas of the ocean are experiencing deoxygenation. Fish and other marine organisms are becoming stressed as it is harder to breathe. In addition, warming waters are causing a decrease in the production of microorganisms such as plankton. Now you may be thinking: This all sounds terrible, but I live inland. I’ll be fine. I don’t need to change my ways at all. Wrong yet again! Think about it. Fish is available to buy and eat all over the world, not just in coastal cities. With climate change affecting fish and the food web, way less fish will be available. That will affect most people. Also, plankton provides half of the world’s oxygen supply. Plankton is the base of the food web in the ocean, too. Basically, if plankton gets wiped out by climate change, marine animals will begin to die, and the world will lose half of its oxygen supply. As you can see, there are many harmful effects of climate change that will affect everyone and everything.
We as humans have a responsibility to protect our planet. It has given us the resources to not only survive, but to thrive. And what do we do in return? We destroy it because of money and power. This must come to an end. Otherwise, our planet will die and its inhabitants, including us, will die, too. Scientists estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. In the future, there will be no more ice in the Arctic, the sea level will be 1-4 feet higher, there will be stronger hurricanes, and there will be many droughts. The temperature will continue to rise, precipitation patterns will change, and the growing season will become longer. We can no longer let greed get in the way of our planet’s health. We are responsible for Earth, and if we continue with “business as usual,” future generations will suffer, and the Earth will die. As I said before, we must not let this happen.
To conclude, climate change is a huge issue that we are all facing. It is caused by us, and it must be stopped by us. Every single day we contribute to climate change. We use single-use plastic, consume cow products, and use objects, such as cars, that require fossil fuels. We do things that create greenhouse gases. We keep doing these things, even though there are other options. Typically, these other options are more expensive or take more work, and that turns people off. However, isn’t our planet’s health more important than a little extra money or effort? It definitely is. We got our beautiful planet into this mess, and we need to get it out. We can use reusable materials, go one day a week without meat, and use less fossil fuels. There are so many alternatives, which means that there is hope. Hope that our planet will be saved, and our ocean will be filled with happy and healthy organisms. Climate change is going down.
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I wrote this essay to educate people about climate change, and to encourage people to fight for our planet. I love our planet, especially the ocean. I find environmental science, including marine biology, fascinating. It pains me to see people hurting our precious planet. Also, it makes me angry when people know that they are harming the planet. I was inspired by my environmental science teacher, Mrs. Zellmer. She has taught me so much and made me a better person. Through my exploration of climate change, I have learned what I was doing that hurt the planet, and am now trying to change. I am now getting involved with organizations that are helping the ocean and met with my principal to get plastic straws out of the lunch kits. I hope that this essay will make people think twice about harming the planet. I want other people to be passionate about the planet, too. Then there will be hope. Our planet has given us so much and it is time to repay it.