Opinion: We Can Only Address Climate Change Significantly if Oil Is Less Profitable

Daniella Cressman

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For decades, environmental scientists have warned us about climate change: They have said we have to cut carbon emissions: The trends that have occurred will likely leave humanity in dire straits.

In short, it's already too late: Too many species have already gone extinct, and too many natural disasters have already stricken communities steeped in culture, creativity, and exuberance, leaving overwhelming destruction in their wake.

According to NASA’s website, “The current warming trend is of particular significance because it is unequivocally the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia. It is undeniable that human activities have warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land, and that widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred.” —NASA

More often than not, natural disasters are the result of climate change: The fire was arguably a "side effect" of it.

Climate change is perhaps a more apt term than global warming because we can expect erratic weather, perhaps even tsunamis, more intense fires, the death of coral reefs, and probably the extinction of even more species.

Our planet’s average surface temperature has risen two degrees since the late 19th century, and the last seven years have been the hottest on record. Most of the warming has occurred within the last 40 years. Additionally, global warming is linked to lower snowpacks in the mountains of the Southwest, and faster runoff, which make the forests tinder boxes. It is predicted that within the next two decades, the planet’s temperature will rise by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius). If this happens, scientists are saying we can expect the possible death of the coral reefs, increased erratic weather such as thunderstorms, floods and hurricanes, and rising oceans due to melting icebergs and glaciers. And yes, we can expect more devastating forest fires and earlier in the season. —Jerry Pacheco

We have taken some action as a global community but it's hard to preserve the planet when there is big money in the oil industry.

Many politicians are faced with giving up their massive earnings from investing in oil companies which they are often using to fund education programs across the nation.

Additionally, the shift could potentially lead to significant losses for the United States' economy at large, and a lot of people who work for oil companies just want to keep a roof over their head and feed their families: Whether they agree with the environmental destruction or not, the profits are almost too good to pass up—It's a matter of survival.

That being said, there are more and more jobs in environmental conservation, but the shift will likely be gradual.

With all of the money coming in, many officials have still been making efforts to alleviate the damage.

The Paris Agreement, which was signed by 192 countries and the European Union, has the objective of addressing global warming by limiting greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve a climate neutral world by the middle of the century. The U.S. and more than 100 nations also have joined forces to cut methane gas, which is contributing to global warming. India, a developing nation with major pollution problems, has publicly stated its goal to be carbon neutral by 2070. Developing nations are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and many are pushing developed nations to improve on the 2.7-degree temperature rise prediction. However, are all these efforts enough? The fact is that our behavior toward the climate affects other parts of the world, and what is going on there affects us. Because climate change is a global phenomenon, nobody is immune. The fire situation in New Mexico is the consequence of years of developed and developing nations ignoring environmental effects for the goal of industrialization. I am certainly worried about my ancestral lands. However, I am even more worried that an ancient way of life and the people who live it are at risk and probably will continue to be until we get a handle on climate change, which is striking uncomfortably close to home. —Jerry Pacheco

Climate change will probably not cause a mass extinction, but it will likely lead to a slew of natural disasters, threatening millions of human lives.

"It's possible that climate change will still threaten the lives of hundreds of millions of people, such as by leading to food and water scarcity, which has the potential to trigger a societal collapse and set the stage for global conflict, research finds." —Patrick Pester

The wildfires ravaging many areas of New Mexico this year are probably a result of climate change.

That being said, it will be nearly impossible to actually make the shift—wholeheartedly—unless oil stops being so profitable.

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
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