On November 23, 2018, a federal report regarding climate change and its effects across the United States was released during the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season. Though not as widely discussed on other media platforms due to the timing of its release, we feel this assessment is too important not to listen to. We feel this is something everyone should check out or at least skim through; the studies and research show people across the country located in diverse regions will be adversely impacted by climate change. With a simple one-click share on Facebook or mention during a conversation with a friend or co-worker can shed light on the topics that need to be discussed. An entire chapter is designed to explore the changes in both rural and urban areas within the Northeast. Specifically, what these regions will be faced with and how they will harm the region’s economy, social structures, as well as their ecosystems.
As we all know, Cape Cod is reliant on tourism to support our economy, however, rising sea levels, sea temperatures and ocean acidification prove to be an immense threat. Adaptive capabilities of plants, animals and marine life have been compromised due to the rate of change in their niches, ultimately making them hostile or inhospitable environments for survival. As humans who hold the power to voice our options and vote, we have failed to implement mitigation techniques that would have protected fragile and collapsing ecosystems, thus potentially saving endangered species. There are countless reasons to delve into the chapters on your own time. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting for legislation that promotes environmental protection while not degrading the environment are especially imperative in ensuring Cape Cod’s longevity. However, we decided to give a brief on a couple facts found intriguing based upon topics I have been learning about at UMASS Amherst.
The report includes a chapter titled ‘Tribes and Indigenous People’ which discusses how their culture, tradition, way of life, physical and mental health will be damaged as a result of climate change and altered weather patterns and conditions. The United States has yet to achieve environmental justice and shows patterns of environmental racism. This term was coined to describe the potentially hazardous conditions that colored indigenous, low-come, or other frequently discriminated against groups. It may include water insecurity, contamination, exposure to chemicals, or other waste products, all of which can be detrimental to human health and surrounding habitats. It is 2018 and these issues have been ongoing for countless decades, and will inevitably continue unless action is taken with efficiency and effectiveness. Environmental justice must play a larger role when creating and enforcing environmental regulations. If only to prevent any group of people or any community from being ostracized, neglected, or blatantly discriminated against. If it is not recognized by the public and incorporated into the implementation of regulations into our modern day society, communities already facing unfair treatment will experience a decrease in access to safe water, air and other basic necessities required for the survival of most forms of life because of pollution. The United States is viewed as an international powerhouse, the developed nation, yet human rights are being violated and neglected on a regular basis. If this does not ignite fury in masses, what will? What is obvious is that more Americans need a wake up call.
Climate change includes more extreme conditions such as heat waves, floods, and droughts that lead to an increase in susceptibility to illnesses including vector, food, and waterborne infectious diseases that endanger lives. Whether you are directly seeing the impacts in front of your own eyes right now or not, you are still in jeopardy. We have the power to prevent such issues from consuming the lives of millions, however to reach that point for change to occur on a nationwide scale, we need to come to a consensus and vocalize our concerns. “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would benefit the health of Americans in the near and long term. By the end of this century, thousands of American lives could be saved and hundreds of billions of dollars in health-related economic benefits gained each year under a pathway of lower greenhouse gas emissions.” (NCA4 Chapter 14)
Years of scientific research and data expose the severity that climatic change will have, not only upon the United States, but the entire planet. We urge you to read through the Fourth National Climate Change Assessment to inform yourselves, for only if serious changes are made soon, the consequences will be grave and it will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible to ‘undo’ the amount of damage we have caused. Our personal choices in conjunction with a lack of present and enforced legislation geared towards reducing emissions are a problem. Our national ecological footprints play a negative role in the degradation of ecosystems, communities and infrastructure on a global scale. When we choose to consume based on industry ads and trends, a positive feedback loop of pollution is established. While we are not asking people to completely alter their entire lifestyle, being aware and thinking critically about your own life and actions is the first step to a more informed and adaptable country. Question and conduct your own research. Whether it be about the origin of your makeup or the journey your food made to reach your kitchen table, it is all a step in the right direction.