by Jamie Crow

A record number of endangered species, numerous consecutive years marking the hottest years on record, and a world that is generally falling apart before our eyes — this is our Earth.

While the idea may seem overwhelming at first, as it should be, we humans are having a direct hand in destroying the world we rely on. According to the World Wildlife Fund, between 46 and 58 thousand square miles of forests are lost each year, taking with them the habitats of many animals. Our oceans and our seas are polluted with trash and plastic, which affects every square mile of our oceans, harming animals with the deadly effects of pollution. 2016 is the third year in a row to have the distinction of being the hottest year on record.

All the problems with our world are very overwhelming, and the realities of human nature are at the forefront of many people’s concerns. Rightly so, many people focus their attention on the ways in which humans interact with each other, individual and minority rights, and all the other issues that bog people down regarding basic human nature. Such concerns most certainly have weight and should be valued, but an important concept to note is that the very world that gives us the vehicle to have such discussions of human nature is at risk. Being worried about the social climate of our world is a worthy concern, but being equally, if not more, concerned about the environmental climate of our world is also a worthy issue.

The current Presidential administration has made numerous claims that have sparked an outrage amongst many citizens, such as defunding Planned Parenthood and the concept of a so-called “Muslim ban.” Of great concern as well is the fact that, during his campaign, President Trump said that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work on adapting to the negative aspects of climate change. While President Trump may not hold true to that campaign promise, the thought of the United States leaving the Paris Agreement is very worrisome, as leaving could decrease global cooperation with the agreement. The United States also has one of the largest greenhouse gas emissions of the countries that are a part of the agreement, so if we withdrew, the amount of change that could be made would be significantly decreased.

While it is difficult to know exactly where President Trump will stand on environmental issues, citizens do have the power to affect change. There are several small steps that we can take to impact a large change:

  • Donating to causes like the World Wildlife Fund or the Ocean Conservancy to support the work that they do to maintain animal’s habitats and species
  • On a somewhat smaller note, but equally as effective, making sure that we recycle what we can and picking up our garbage would help to ensure that trash would not end up in animal habitats.

With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, now is the perfect time to be thinking about our beloved Earth. Helping to reverse the effects of climate change requires a series of small steps, and these suggestions are only some of a great number of awesome ways to start. Most importantly, however, is the constant need for us as citizens to continually educate ourselves and learn new ways of combatting the negative influence that climate change is having on our world.