The issue of so-called “global warming,” now most commonly referred to as “climate change” is one which the vast majority—over 97%–of environmental scientists believe to be a genuine environmental problem that is significantly contributed to by human activity (Nuccitelli, 2018). The consensus among scientists regarding the contribution of humans towards climate change, predominantly through carbon dioxide emissions, is one largely inspired by evidence of climate change’s tremendous progression since the Industrial Revolution. Throughout the past century, the climate has warmed to an unprecedented degree, and the average global temperature has increased “at the fastest rate in recorded history” over the past 50 years (MacMillan, 2016).
Scientists have come to agree upon the notion that global warming occurs as carbon dioxide, alongside other pollutants, are collected in the atmosphere and absorb solar radiation that was meant to escape back into space (MacMillan, 2016). The trapping of this radiation is believed to ultimately contribute to the warming of the planet, and the consequences that such warming brings with it (MacMillan, 2016). Climate change is overwhelmingly viewed as a serious problem, particularly if it continues to persist and even worsen in the coming years, which is a rather significant possibility unless drastic action is taken.
This figure depicts the international participation (or lack thereof) in the Paris Agreement (Greshko, 2017).
There currently exists numerous efforts aimed at combatting and potentially reversing climate change. Many of these efforts have been developed and promoted by governments around the world, with perhaps one of the most prominent being the Paris Agreement, which has seen its numerous member states pledge to decrease their overall carbon emissions over time in order to meet the agreement’s clearly defined emissions goal (Greshko, 2017). While the Paris Agreement may be among the few well-recognized efforts meant to address the growing problem of climate change, there are many others that aim to combat climate change in some way. A campaign called “We Are Still In” has, for instance, recruited governments, businesses, and academic institutions for the purpose of minimizing carbon emissions and contributing to the goals outlined in the aforementioned Paris Agreement (Greshko, 2017).
Furthermore, many businesses and individuals around the world have committed to fighting global warming in less recognizable but equally important ways. Investing in environmentally-friendly forms of energy, setting limits for industrial pollution, and minimizing the production and use of fossil fuels are among the numerous ways in which businesses and individuals are making a difference in the fight against climate change.
Ultimately, making a meaningful difference in terms of minimizing the extent and the potential consequences of climate change will have to take place on a governmental level. Campaigns such as the Paris Agreement are undeniably the most important of all efforts designed to target the problem simply because of the scale of their impact. While the smaller-scale contributions of businesses and individuals should absolutely be commended and encouraged, their impact in comparison to that of an international agreement is undoubtedly negligible. In order to ensure that further campaigns like the Paris Agreement continue to catch on with governments, however, the issue of climate change must continue to be promoted and discussed as the urgent and problematic one that it is. I believe that the Paris Agreement can and will succeed, so long as the member states continue to recognize climate change as a real problem with real and devastating consequences that will only worsen with time and without meaningful action taken against it. Global warming is far from an unsolvable problem, although it is one that will continue to require dedication and a commitment to address its causes as we have recognized them thus far. Limiting carbon emissions to the greatest extent possible is, at least at this point in time, the clearest answer that we have and must work with.
- Greshko, M. (2017, October 31). Current climate pledges aren’t enough to stop severe warming.
Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/paris-agreement-climate-change-usa-nicaragua-policy-environment/
- MacMillan, A. (2016, March 11). Global warming 101. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from
- Nuccitelli, D. (2018, April 05). American conservatives are still clueless about the 97% expert
climate consensus. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/apr/05/american-conservatives-are-still-clueless-about-the-97-expert-climate-consensus