Chicago and Climate Change

By Zara Khan

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Chicago started the year in the midst of a record snowfall, one that left the streets full of snow and potholes. After that, it had the rainiest April ever, and the unpredictable weather in the spring postponed practices, interrupted games and cancelled concerts and parties. Next, summer brought hot, humid dry weather. Then, in late August we experienced the weather drop into the 50’s before plunging back up to shorts weather at the end of September. The unusual weather Chicagoans are experiencing has not happened by accident—it is, likely, related to the effects of climate change.

Climate change is a serious topic that is not receiving enough worldwide attention as it should be. This past week, a UN General Assembly was held in New York City where they discussed one of the world’s most pressing issues: climate change. The UN is meeting to come up with a plan for a new global climate treaty that would be signed at the end of next year. And across the world, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to call for more action against climate change. In Brazil, participants stood along the Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro to protest the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, which is mostly located in Brazil and produces 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. The largest protests, though, happened in New York City and called for political and economic change to slow global warming.

This is a serious issue that we, as global citizens, need to address because we are directly causing the deterioration of our planet. Evidence of this is the detailed measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide; the levels have risen 25% since 1957, and the levels are higher today than at any point in the past 800,000 years. Scientists agree that the burning of coal, natural gas, and oil is responsible for the rising levels.

And, in more current worldwide news, flooding recently struck in Kashmir, a region in southern Asia. The capital city, which holds one million, is submerged and underwater. The floods destroyed businesses, homes and livelihoods. A typhoon in the Philippines destroyed neighborhoods and left millions displaced. All of these disasters are evidence that we need to be more conscious of the ways in which we are impacting our planet.

At Latin and in Chicago, we can be conscious of ways in which we are impacting our environment. At school, Mr. McArthur’s Green Club works to help keep our school eco-friendly by helping with recycling and by managing the amounts of paper and materials we waste. As global citizens, we need to be conscious of how we are treating our planet. We have one planet, and we need to start taking care of it.

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