“That’s a problem for future generations.” I have heard this line from many of my peers every time climate change is brought up. Claims that the “sea level will rise 1-8 feet by 2100,” or the Arctic is “likely to become ice-free,” which are likely not going to be a reality during the majority — or even any — of my life or my peers’ lives, lead many to believe that climate change is an ignorable problem, or maybe not even a problem at all.
Not only is this mentality incredibly selfish — family and friends may live beyond you — but it is very wrong. Climate change is affecting our lives right now. Take, for example, the Australian wildfires that devastated people, property, animals and the environment around the country. Researchers say that “human-caused climate change made those fires at least 30 percent more likely to occur.”
If Australia is still too far away for UM students to care about, then what about the California fires or, even closer to home, Hurricane Ida?
Ida made landfall on Aug. 26 at a whopping 150 mph, tying Hurricane Laura (2020) and the Last Hurricane of 1856 as the strongest storm to hit Louisiana. The hurricane devastated huge areas of Louisiana and very literally hit close to home for me as a New Orleans native. Ida not only affected Louisiana but had severe consequences for many other states, including New York and Mississippi. The hurricane destroyed homes, left entire cities without power and drowned people in their homes.
I began to really notice climate change over the summer in New Orleans. Many of my days were filled with heavy rain that almost instantly flooded my street and my garage. While rain is common in New Orleans, especially during the summer, this degree of this rain is not. In fact, by August, New Orleans had already exceeded its annual average of rain with four and a half months left in the year.
Climate change is more than just ice melting. It is not a future problem, but something that affects us more and more as each day passes. “As Earth’s sea levels rise, so does the potential damage from storms, storm surges, and extreme weather events,” including increasingly colder winters and Southern snowstorms, like the one that shut down campus for around a week in February.
My peers disregarding climate change is incredibly frustrating. The world is changing around us, and that change cannot be ignored. Abnormal things are happening, like Texas freezing over and a hurricane causing destruction from Louisiana to New York. The world we know and love is changing before our eyes because of our conscious actions. We need to start taking a more active role in trying to save our planet. We need to start changing our actions to be more eco-conscious and start demanding big corporations to stop polluting our planet. We only get one world, and persevering it is a problem for every single generation.
Abigail Myers is a sophomore majoring in English and psychology from New Orleans, Louisiana.