About a week ago today, humanity reached a milestone that has not been reached for millions of years. Not since before the dawn of humanity, we have reached a point in our history that, while for many a mere blip in history, signals a sobering change in our environment. That mere blip that will go unnoticed by most, is the sustained level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere of 400 ppm for an entire day. Like I said, most people won't even know about it and a majority won't care, but perhaps we should start taking notice of what we are doing to our environment. The 400 ppm level that was reached will not stay at that level all year long. It will drop again as the northern hemisphere enters the summer months when carbon dioxide levels annually decrease due to the plethora of trees growing their leaves for another season. However, scientists indicate that it is only a matter of time before we see a sustained level of 400 ppm for a long period of time if not indefinitely; unless we do something. That something seems to be harder to do than it is to talk about. While the United States is no longer the largest emitter of carbon dioxide and other green house gases (we have been surpassed by China), we are by far the one to blame the most. For the longest time, the United States was the largest emitter of green house gases, and to date, has been one of the few countries to pass any meaningful measures to reduce our emissions and retreat from our carbon hungry economy and way of life. Most if not all European countries have passed measures to reduce their carbon footprint, yet we refuse to do so. Why? Politics and lobbyists. There is simply too much money flowing from fossil fuel producing energy giants into the pockets of politicians for us to even think about retreating from our fossil fuel hungry economy and way of life. Yes, we have made small inroads here and there, but our consumption has not decreased in any meaningful way that will have any lasting effect on climate change. As it is, we are already seeing drastic changes in weather patterns, increasingly errant and larger storms, and in general, our world is warming drastically. The big question is, will we ever be able to enact meaningful change before it is too late? I have my doubts yet I can't help but remain hopeful, not for me, but for our children and our children's children.
Despite all the news out there about global warming, climate change, and the effects of carbon dioxide on our atmosphere, there are still skeptics and those who would say that it is all a hoax. I, for one, think these people must either live in a clam shell or be entirely disconnected from the reality that the rest of us are living in. If you simply look at the facts, it is nearly impossible to deny that global warming is having an effect on our climate and weather patterns. There are increasingly long periods without rain throughout the world, changes in the number and sizes of storms that are ravaging countries world wide, and a steady increase in temperatures with last year being the warmest year ever on record. We are pushing our environment to its limits and hoping things will remain the same. Well, they won't. The drastic change in temperature and rainfall is too fast for most plants to adapt to. If this were all happening at a slower pace, plants would be able to adapt, slowly migrate northward as the climate warmed, and establish themselves in new environs. Yet with the change happening so rapidly, we are essentially eradicating entire species of plants and animals because they can't adapt quick enough. This will have an effect on global food production as we have less and less arable land to farm and as we move forward, it will drive food prices higher and higher. I could turn all doom and gloom, which believe me I have not yet done, yet what good would it do. The majority of us read about global warming and climate change and continue living the way we always have, with complete disregard for the world we live in. It is much easier to keep on living than it is to enact meaningful changes in our own lives and in a broader sense, our society. I hope that one day soon we will start to push for more initiatives aimed at decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to take climate change more seriously, but it may be too late. There is a level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists say is the point of no return. I am not positive of what that level is, but if I remember correctly, it is either 450 ppm or 500 ppm. Regardless, we are seem to be driving faster and faster towards that point and our brakes seem to be failing. It is said that once we reach that point, nothing we do will be able to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and we will be on a slippery slope to a drastically different world. I hope we can all make an effort to change, yet the small pessimistic side of me thinks that we won't be able to do so in time.