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Our Earth, Our Choice

Muriel Lund, Staff Writer

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   One highly controversial topic in today’s society is the role of human activity in climate change and the existence of global warming at all. Global warming is the gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans, a change that is permanently changing the Earth’s climate. One of the most common causes of this crisis is the emission of greenhouse gases, such as those generated by automobiles. These gases absorb and emit radiation in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise.

  It is a common misconception that global warming is a myth or hoax; others tend to doubt the impact humans have in climate change. Unfortunately, it is hard to argue that temperatures aren’t on the rise when all but one of the 16 hottest years in NASA’s 134-year record have occurred since 2000.

  Skeptics tend to focus on the  “slowing down” or “pause” in the rise of temperatures in recent years, due to new technology reducing the amount of CO2 emissions in the United States between 2005 and 2014, rather than the big picture. Scientists have refuted this claim; stating that if we do not make a drastic change, the average temperature in the United States will increase by at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the next century. The index seems small but the effects are being felt worldwide. In Johnson County we have been sporting shorts and sunglasses in the middle of February; this might feel great in the moment but the fabulous weather comes at a high price.

  In 2016, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine were able to confidently attribute certain weather events, such as heat waves, directly to climate change.

With Antarctica losing 134 billion metric tons of ice per year since 2002, rising sea levels, and the warming of the ocean’s surface, leading to longer and increased heat waves around the globe, something must change.

  Global warming is not the only thing harming the Earth and its ecosystems. Researchers and scientists are concerned that certain UV-filters in sunscreens may be washing off of snorkelers and damaging coral reefs worldwide. On Jan. 20th, 2017, Hawaiian Senator, Will Espero, introduced a bill to congress that would restrict the sale of particular sunscreens. This bill aims to ban sunscreens containing two chemical UV- filters, oxybenzone and octinoxate, except under medical prescription.

“Since there are eco-friendly sunscreens on the market now, a total ban hurts no one,” Senator Espero said.

  Sunscreens using other chemical filters would still be permitted for sale and use. Another alternative would be selecting sunscreens that contain a mineral filter such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Mineral based sunscreen options are not only better for the environment but also your own physical health; chemical UV-filters have been linked to hormone disruption and skin allergies.

  Hawaii relies heavily on tourism revenue generated by the attraction to coral reefs. If these harmful sunscreens continue to be used, sold, and disseminated into oceans, increasing the deterioration of the reef, our underwater friends won’t be the only ones feeling the detrimental impacts. This issue is not only affecting our 50th state but also all other marine economies reliant on revenue accumulated from coral reefs such as Palau and the British Virgin Islands.

  In my opinion, I believe that a person who supports the idea of the human race  accelerating the rate of global warming through their greenhouse gas emitting activities, and those who see the rising climate as a “hoax” should both treat our Earth with respect and always ease on the side of caution. I don’t see why humans would want to produce excess pollution, litter, continue using fossil fuels, or fight a ban on chemicals that could be harmful to the coral reefs and themselves when there are many other alternatives that, if implicated, will help ourselves, our Earth, and future generations. The climate is rising and will continue to rise at a growing rate unless we make a change. If seven billion Earthlings contribute daily to saving our planet, whether it’s walking to work or avoiding certain sunscreen, we can generate a global impact.

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Our Earth, Our Choice