Living in our Silicon Valley bubble, our presumptions of climate change and how it affects our lives are drastically different from reality. In the summer, the temperature soars over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, while in the winter time, there’s a shortened ski season due to less snowpack. Forest fires burn down millions of acres every year, and the ongoing droughts leave lawns yellow across neighborhoods. But these effects of climate change are small compared to other communities on Earth and the future of our own homes. Not only will parts of the planet be uninhabitable by the end of the century, but the climate crisis has already left some areas disproportionately affected because of socioeconomic status.
Data from the Rhodium Group shows that by 2050, the Midwest and Louisiana will have high temperatures combined with high humidity, creating circumstances in which the human body will be unable to cool itself through perspiration. These projections also will have a huge impact on the economy, suggesting that growing food will become difficult all across the country, including in the High Plains’ 35 billion dollar agricultural industry. As the sea levels rise, coastlines will recede and some cities are predicted to become completely submerged, including Miami, New York City, Honolulu, and San Diego.
Climate change has a deep connection to social justice as well. Even though natural disasters target poorer or richer communities equally, the recovery time for communities is entirely dependent on socioeconomic status. For example, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was noticed in the very beginning by citizens, yet the state refused to send help until 18 months later. 115 people could have been saved from water poisoning, but because of Flint’s low population and racial demographics, the city had little political power, therefore less likely to receive aid. Similarly, Latinos and Blacks in America statistically live closer to toxic waste facilities, creating poor air quality and health risks. As the respiratory illness COVID-19 spreads throughout the country, there’s an even greater likelihood for those exposed to polluted air to contract the virus. However, the government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to enforce air pollution regulations, and even halted previous initiatives for cleaner air.
As individuals constantly generate toxic waste, we all have an obligation to try and slow climate change. If we limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees, we would avoid 150 million deaths caused by air pollution by the end of the century. By using renewable energy, reducing water waste, and switching off unused lights, you can cut down your carbon footprint immensely. Remember that the climate crisis is not just an issue affecting the world around us, but also future generations that may no longer be able to live on a safe planet.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.