In 1988, Edgemont students published an article about the greenhouse effect and the dangers of the impending climate crisis. When I first found the article, I expected to see outdated facts and research. After all, how could people have known so much about climate change if they did nothing about it in the 80s? Shockingly, many things said in the article are still relevant to today. Even 30 years ago, people had the same concerns, yet nothing was done to counter global warming. We have known that the climate change we are currently experiencing is largely due to human activity, and we have done not enough to fix that.
When I first found the article, I expected to see outdated facts and research. After all, how could people have known so much about climate change if they did nothing about it in the 80s? Shockingly, many things said in the article are still relevant to today.
Unfortunately, the predictions of 1988 Edgemont students have been remarkably accurate. For example, the article mentions the threats to the safety of the Amazon Rainforest because of deforestation and forest fires. In 2019, 7600 square kilometers, or 2934 square miles of the Amazon were destroyed due to wildfires, and the Amazon has lost over 17% of its land since the 1970s.
Additionally, the article mentions the possibility of drought in the Midwest, forest fires on the West coast, and record breaking temperatures as the effects of climate change. States in the Midwest and Great Plains that have large agriculture industries faced a terrible drought this summer, as usual. This summer, states on the West coast experienced terrible forest fires, which burned about 6.7million acres of land and killed around 30 people. The smoke from the fires was so bad that it even reached Westchester, and was visible here in mid September.
The 1988 article also mentions that scientists believed the record breaking temperatures of that summer to be caused by climate change and the greenhouse effect, even if there was still ongoing controversy about whether those temperatures were just naturally occurring. Fast forward 33 years, and we are still having the same debate, despite the overwhelming evidence that the climate crisis is man-made and is not just a natural phenomenon. We are also still experiencing record breaking temperatures every year, with the five hottest years on record being 2016, 2020, 2019, 2017, and 2018.
The 1988 article addressed the need for quick and decisive action to combat the greenhouse effect: “If the greenhouse effect has begun, our generation will be the ones to deal with the catastrophic consequences.” As time passed and that generation did little to combat the climate crisis, the “catastrophic” consequences have only become worse for our generation.
The solutions we hear about now are the same ones that were discussed over 30 years ago. The 1988 article mentioned the need to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable, to end our reliance on fossil fuels, and to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, such as wind and nuclear power.
Although the past 30 years have shown us that these measures seem far-fetched, there is some hope with the new administration. In his first days in office, President Joe Biden has led the US in rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, and he plans to make the US carbon neutral by 2050.
There are some other climate focused bills in this session of Congress. Currently, H.Res.29 is a resolution in the House of Representatives that is meant to encourage and support teaching about climate change in schools. With the session progressing, there will probably be other bills related to the climate crisis. Before the damage is completely irreversible, we should all take part in mitigating the effects of the climate crisis, and that can start by just calling or emailing representatives to support bills protecting the environment.