The driving instructor, Greg Atkins, slurped down his iced coffee while the sweat on his forehead imitated the misty droplets on the plastic cup. Though the air conditioner was on, it seemed its only purpose was to circulate heat as opposed to the fresh, cool air that was expected.
It had been hot in New York City without a promise of cool air for days. The car sat idling in traffic while workers drilled holes into the cement earth, the radio spoke of oil wells and new laws being passed on coal mining, all the while Atkins talked about his reality of climate change.
“Humans are too small to change the climate of the earth so drastically,” Atkins said.
About 60 percent of Americans believe climate change will harm other people in the United States, but only about 40 percent believe it will harm them personally, according to a March 2017 New York Times article.
On Aug. 28, the Dean of Students Office sent a campus-wide email offering the Henderson Campus Center as a temporary, air-conditioned alternative to sleeping in residence halls. In the three years I have attended Allegheny, I cannot recall ever receiving an email like this.
The email also urged students to spend as much time as they can in the campus center considering many buildings on campus are not air-conditioned, and spending too much time in the intense heat and humidity could be dangerous.
It is scary to consider that mere mortals could create such an impact on the environment as to raise the average temperature by 1.4 degrees fahrenheit over the last 100 years, according to an article on climate change reported by the National Research Council. Perhaps it would be easier to live in ignorance and say the world has gone through rising and falling temperatures for billions of years.
Believing this may make it even easier to sleep in the nice comfortable bed with the air conditioner blasting, but realistically, there is no more time to rest easy. As more energy goes into cooling larger rooms in larger homes, emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, people must be working to counteract and reduce these emissions.
Humans consume 500 billion billion joules of energy per year, according to Sustainability and Climate Change Consultant, Mike Berners-Lee and Chairman of BDA China, Duncan Clark. Current emissions have caused the planet to fall into a cycle — even if humans were to stop releasing greenhouse gas emissions now, feedback loops would continue to melt ice caps and raise temperatures, according to Matt Bethurem, assistant professor of environmental science. Now, if we were to try and reverse climate change, we would only slow down the progression and keep life as we know it around a little longer.
With the information out there about climate change and the impacts that can now be seen and felt in melting ice caps and rising temperatures, not to mention a hot topic among classmates, I wonder how people can still resist the facts and carry on believing this heat is natural. It is more terrifying to live in a world where people are more ready to accept the existence of the extinct megalodon than climate change.