Young people lead the way on climate change

Photo courtesy of AP Images. Climate change protesters striking on Sept. 20, 2019, in Kansas City.

BY AMBER JUAREZ

COPY EDITOR

Climate change has been a hot topic these past few years. Many people are talking about it, and the majority of them are young people. The youth have been speaking up about climate change and are beginning to create new organizations.

According to NASA, if climate change continues to increase it will cause sea levels to rapidly increase. COD’s astronomy professor Dr. Amira Elsenousy, believes sea levels are already increasing. “By looking at past data that’s collected over years we can see that in the last fifty years there has been a 1 degree Celsius increase of the global average surface temperature which has affected mainly the north pole and the ice sheets which is causing it to melt and add water to oceans making sea levels increase over time. Likewise, this high temperature makes the ocean warm and seawater expands to take up more space which causes floods and affects coastal areas.”

Elsenousy said that according to the National Climate Assessment (NCA) report 2014, the Arctic Ocean is expected to be ice-free in the summer before around 2050 because of this significant increase in temperature.

Elsenousy said a way we know that climate change is real is by looking at data scientists have gathered since the 1900s and comparing it to the data we have now. “By tracking back all the data that scientists are observing, we can see that there has been a big change in the climate. In the past few decades, we can notice a clear global warming trend due to rapidly rising carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.”

Who’s responsible for climate change? “We definitely are responsible,” said Elsenousy, “The increase in temperature is mainly due to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which is related to human activities such as burning fossil fuels, using too much energy etc. All these activities increased greenhouse gases that cause global warming.”

Climate change has significant impact. With temperatures rising, the future will be very chaotic. “There might be heavy precipitations and increase of freshwater resources at high latitude while the decrease of these resources in tropical areas. Also, there will be an increase in the heat intensity and durations,” said Elsenousy.

Elsenousy said that the increase in temperature isn’t only affecting the earth, it’s affecting the upper atmosphere. “According to some studies about global warming, as the CO2 consider the significant reason for increasing the average surface temperature at the lower atmosphere, in fact, it cools the upper atmosphere by about 8 degrees. That consequently affects a lot of satellite-based technology and high-frequency radio communication systems.”

While some people agree that climate change is real, some don’t. The younger generation strongly believes that it is real. Many organizations like School Strike 4 Climate Change, Young People’s Trust for the Environment, International Youth Climate Movement and Our Children’s Trust, were created to tackle climate change and the majority of them are led by the youth.

Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg has recently brought more attention to climate change. Thunberg has inspired thousands of young people across the globe to follow in her footsteps. From walking out of class on Fridays to peaceful strikes and marches.

Friends of the Desert Mountains is a local organization that helps preserve wildlife and educates the public about the Coachella Valley’s environmental issues. The group has protected over 60,000 acres of land.

Colin Barrows, conservation coordinator for Friends of the Desert Mountains said, “We have four main program areas: Acquisition. We acquire and preserve open space and critical habitat for threatened and endangered species. Research, our research priority is understanding the effects of climate change on our native desert plants and animals. We work with professional researchers at UC Riverside, and community scientist volunteers throughout the Coachella Valley to better understand and protect our environment. Stewardship. We clean up trash, and non-native, invasive plants from the desert environment to protect habitat, preserve water sources, and reduce the chance of wildfires. We also build and restore hiking trails to promote responsible outdoor recreation. Education, We provide educational programs for all ages, from school groups and girl scouts to college students and visitors to the Coachella Valley, so that together we can understand and protect the natural gifts that surround us.”

Local residents can help preserve the environment by going on hikes and picking up trash. Barrows said, “I think the number one thing Coachella Valley residents can do to preserve the environment is to get outdoors and discover the desert for themselves. Once you have gotten a taste for the amazing diversity of wildlife, landscapes and experiences that our home has to offer, help protect it by picking up trash on the trail, using the free iNaturalist app found at www.inaturalist.org. This app allows people to identify and record the things you see, and practicing Leave No Trace principles. If you have time, do even more by volunteering with Friends of the Desert Mountains.”

Friends of the Desert Mountains believe that the future of climate change is in the hands of the youth. They work with students of all ages to keep them informed of what is going on in their environment. “It’s a cliche, but the youth really are the future. Sooner or later, it will be their responsibility to continue the successes (and correct the mistakes) of previous generations in protecting our environment. We work with students, scout groups, and clubs from kindergarten through college level to help them appreciate and protect the natural wonders that surround us right here in the Coachella Valley,” said Barrows.

Anyone can volunteer with Friends of the Desert Mountains. “A great way for COD students to get started volunteering with us is to join the campus geology and eco-logic clubs, which we work with to organize programs specifically for students. You can also check out volunteer opportunities on the calendar on our website at www.DesertMountains.org,” said Barrows.

Friends of the Desert Mountains is having a National Public Day event on Nov. 9 in Indio. Barrows said, “We will be offering a variety of activities for all ages, from helping to build a new trail through the Indio Hills, to education and community science opportunities.” To learn more visit www.desertmountains.org.

Young people are passionate and will not stop fighting when it comes to climate change. They are taking action for what older generations have done to the earth. Greta Thunberg summed up how many young people feel at the UN Youth Climate Summit in New York City, “We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable.”


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