October 19th-25 is Global Climate Change Week, giving all of us an opportunity to reflect on how the actions of modern society as a whole, as well as our individual actions, impact what scientists call “the biggest threat currently facing our planet”. Nearly every aspect of modern life (from transportation to agriculture to fashion) has a negative impact on the environment to some extent, and it is the goal of the Office of Sustainability to ensure that Georgia College as a campus is doing everything it can to combat the effects of climate change and operate as sustainably as possible.
Despite the amount of pushback from big oil and gas companies as well as select members of the general public, the evidence for human-caused climate change is plentiful and alarming. It is true that the pattern of Earth’s climate changes naturally, and has several times in the past hundred-thousand years or so; however, the current warming trend is unprecedented and, according to scientists, over 95% likely to be the result of human activity beginning in the mid 20th century. The main culprit for this unprecedented rate of warming: carbon dioxide.
Due to a process known as the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide (among other greenhouse gases) that are released into the air trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere and over time have caused a significant rise in the globe’s general temperatures; specifically a 2.05 degree F increase since the late-19th century. Two degrees may not seem significant, but we have already started to see the impacts of global temperature rise. Melting ice caps, rising sea levels, rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events can all be traced directly back to the overarching issue of global climate change. These resulting environmental issues pose a direct threat to human, animal, and environmental health.
Scientists believe that the effects of climate change are guaranteed to continue through to the end of this century and beyond with no way to completely stop them. However, there are certainly actions we can take to help prevent the worsening of our situation and promote change.