What Last Month Can Teach Us About Now: September 2017

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A review of the biggest events of the month

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, and Hurricane Maria will likely mark this season for the history books. All four of these hurricanes, reaching a category 3 or higher, brought with them devastation and loss not often seen at this scale. While this probably won’t be the most active season we have ever had, the general upward trend for the intensity of these types of storms is alarming, and it’s something that scientists have been trying to warn us about for decades.

 In 1997, a scientist named Michener connected climate change to tropical storms in his research, stating: “Global  climate  change  is  expected  to  affect  temperature  and  precipitation patterns, oceanic and atmospheric circulation, rate of rising sea level, and the frequency, intensity, timing, and distribution of hurricanes and tropical storms” (Michener 1997). He wasn’t the first or last to make these claims. As we change the environment with our activities, we change the way the earth behaves and we aren’t safe from the consequences.

Of course, this matter is more complicated than a simple cause and effect relationship. Climate change is affected by many different factors which in turn affect many other factors, which contribute to the turbulent weather. Some of the pinpoint-able changes that we are seeing include rising sea levels and increased water temperatures which may lead to stronger storms. And this isn’t the only area that we are facing the consequences of our actions.

The ways in which we have changed the environment are astronomical. We are existing on a far different planet than we were a century ago. As I watch landscape after landscape destroyed in favor of another chain store we don’t need, I have to stop myself from losing faith in the world. From species extinction, to altered climate patterns, to increasing pollution—there is one thing that can’t be denied: our actions are changing things. We are changing things.

But change doesn’t always have to be for the worse. Technology has drastically altered our landscape once, and it has the potential to do it again. Already we are seeing advancements toward protecting the earth that simply weren’t available even a decade ago. Wind farms, solar panels, and recycling programs are all leading us in a new direction. A good direction. A direction of hope.

When I watched the devastation of the hurricanes unfold, I noticed something else too: people’s willingness to step up and do something about it. The amount of amazing heroes that left their comfortable lives to aid the victims and help to restore the affected cities warmed my heart in the best of ways. When people come together, so much is possible.

Coming together is what we need. Now, more than ever. This planet is our home, the only one we have, so why wouldn’t we do everything we can to make sure that it is safe for the future of our children, grandchildren, and brothers and sisters of the earth? I’ve seen what we can do when we stand together, and once we decide to protect our home, I’m sure no one will be able to stop us.

For more information on what you can do to prevent global warming, click here.

Rachel Swearingen is a senior integrated studies major at Ball State University. She plans to go to graduate school next year to get an MFA in English with the ultimate goal of one day writing a novel. In her free time she loves to read, ride horses and get lost in the woods with her dog.

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