Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our generation today. The impacts will span people, places, and generations. Have you noticed yourself thinking that the summers are just a little more extreme than you remember? Or that there’s been more snow in the winters? That you don’t remember always hearing about all these draughts in California? The effects of climate change are wide spread and may not seem connected, but all of these symptoms can be traced back to a warming world.
The effects of climate change are already present today and are having an impact on people right now, even if they are not yet noticeable to everyone. Already citizens of island nations such as Kiribati are searching for a new home and leaving. It is predicted that some of these nations will have sunk beneath the sea by the end of the century, completely destroying homes where people have lived for generations.
Climate change has a real effect on people; the trick is getting people who are do not see tangible impacts in their daily lives to understand the importance and the direness of the situation. The United States is one of the only places where you can still find people arguing about the existence of climate change, instead of what can be done to help. I think the most important thing that can be done right now is to increase climate change literacy and help people to understand that climate change is real and relevant to everyone. Lifestyle changes are hard to make, but they are necessary.
I became interested in climate change during the past few years in school. In my research at the University of Alabama, I work on green chemistry to make bio-renewable materials from what is already in the world around us. We use chitin, which comes from shrimp shells to make different types of materials. Working with this group is part of what got me interested in the idea of working with the environment. To better help the environment, we should use technology and work in ways that come from the earth and work with the earth, and not against it.
Reaching out and spreading awareness is just as important as the technological advances that help us to mitigate climate change. There have already been big steps in things like energy technology that are better for the environment. Just last month, wind turbines in the UK produced enough energy to power all the homes in Scotland for a month.
“Wind turbines alone generated an estimated 982,842MWh of electricity, enough to power 3,045,000 homes in the UK - equivalent to 126% of the electricity needs of every home in Scotland.”
- WeatherEnergy organization in the UK
Things are looking up and moving in the right direction. That’s why I am so excited about this journey. Having the opportunity to attend the UN Climate Change Conference will give me firsthand experience of what people around the world think of climate change, and what they are doing to help right now. I will use my experiences to do my part in getting people interesting in the issues of climate change. Climate change affects us all, and we should all do what we can to help.