The planet is changing. The extent to which this happening is widely debated, but the fact of the matter is that it is changing. Who is to blame? We are.

As we continue to annihilate rainforests, burn fossil fuels and bury our heads in the sand, parts of the planet become more and more uninhabitable. According to NASA the global average temperature has risen 1.7 degrees since 1880. This might not sound all that much but when it comes to ice, it is a lot. ‘A lot’ is somewhat of an understatement – we are currently seeing a decline of 281 gigatons of land ice and the Arctic is shrinking by 13% per decade – and no, Mr Trump, this is not a myth created by the Chinese, it is a reality created by the human race as a whole. At the click of a button the facts can be found, so why are they not being acted upon?

The now outdated term ‘Global Warming’ is often the most frequently used weapon against raising the awareness of climate change in the United States. Senator Jim Inhofe provides the most prominent example of this when he famously displayed a snowball during a senate debate and cited it as evidence against climate change. Senator Inhofe’s argument, to put simply, does not hold up, as claiming the non-existence of climate change due to the presence of snow, is on the same level of ridiculous as claiming world hunger to be a myth because you have a cheese sandwich in your hand. This level of ignorance towards the facts is unfortunately the dominant discourse in the USA, but why, in a country that prides it self as a progressive nation, is this the case? Could it be to do with Senator Inhofe’s role as the Chair of the Senate Environment Committee? It is difficult to expect anything other than negative press towards climate activism when the most influential person in US climate policy denies the very existence of our rapidly changing climate. But Sen. Inhofe is merely the tip of the iceberg, anti-climate change rhetoric is deeply rooted in the politics of the United States.

With the Republican party inheriting power from the Democrats, these roots have broken the surface and provided some answers to America’s ignorance to the facts that the climate change theory is built on. These exposed roots come in the form of enormous donations made to Republican party by individuals who have made their vast wealth from business in the oil and gas industries. It is estimated that a sum of $100 million of fossil fuel money is donated to politicians. To contextualise, roughly $1 in every $3 donated to the Republicans has come from wealthy individuals who are at most financial risk in the light of a growing fight against climate change. Although Senator Ted Cruz did not win the Republican nomination, nor in turn the Presidency, he is still an influential figure in the party. Cruz, a climate change denier, is a clear example of the investment in politicians by fossil fuel companies. If we take Cruz’s position at the higher end of the political ladder and couple it with the fact that 57% of his Super Pac funds are a result of fossil fuel investment, then Greenpeace’s claim – that Ted Cruz’s rejection of climate science is a result of his heavy reliance on fossil fuel money – is difficult to argue with. [spacer height=”20px”]

…it is not too late to act. We need to lift our heads out of the sand and ensure that there is a planet for future generations

But how, in an America where citizens are increasingly becoming disengaged with politicians, does anti-climate change discourse continue to dominate public forums? It is somewhat difficult not to attribute this to the popular news outlet Fox News being an open supporter and voice for Republican politics. Fox news is available to over 90 million US citizens making it a very effective tool for the reproduction and distribution of arguments opposing climate change, but why would Fox News take sides in the debate? Well, that is down to who owns the corporation and that owner is Rupert Murdoch. This ownership becomes interesting when we consider that Mr. Murdoch is a partial investor in Genie Energy Ltd and sits on their advisory board, meaning that it would be financially beneficial to him to attack climate change ideas through FOX news. When people are told that climate change is a hoax by both influential politicians and media outlets how can we expect the world to address the factually supported theory of climate change?

As scientific study has revealed already, the physical world is changing. Global temperatures are fluctuating, ice is melting, ocean currents are slowing down, sea levels are rising, both floods and droughts are becoming more regular and this is all having an effect on humanity. Prominent examples of this are events such as the Mexican water crisis or the growth of Boko Haram within the shrinking basin of Lake Chad, but it is impossible to look past one current event that has undoubtedly been influenced by climate change and that event is the Syrian Civil War. Now, before I’m accused of saying that the Syrian Civil War was caused solely by climate change, I would like to make it very clear that I am not making that claim in any shape or form, just simply drawing attention to the contribution of climate change. Prior to the breakout of conflict, the country was experiencing its worst ever drought in rural regions resulting in a drastic decline in crop yield. This decline in crop and food resulted in vast migration – over 1.5 million people – from rural regions into cities such as Aleppo. The migration that took place put strain on the supply of essential materials that people need in order to survive. This strain, as it has done in many other cases across the globe, laid the foundations for social unrest and citizens of Syria began to rally against President al-Assad, meaning the country was divided and allowing the break out of civil war, a war that is still raging on and dominating headlines across the world. If we look at what has happened in Syria and then consider the prediction that temperatures in the Middle East are going to rise, leading to further drought, then it would be the ultimate act of idiocy to ignore the possibility of civil war in other Middle-Eastern nations.

Humanity has structured itself around the environment and physical landscape it has inhabited. With this landscape changing, humanity will forcibly be changed. The scientific evidence is telling us that change is happening as we speak, and will continue to happen until we decide to take action. Is it too late? Some have argued that the ‘tipping point’ has passed and damage limitation is now the most realistic tactic to adopt. The problems are not exclusive to the Middle-East, if the Western World continues to play ignorance to the facts, who is to say that years down the line we won’t be in conflict over things we previously took for granted? Despite some claims, it is not too late to act. We need to lift our heads out of the sand and ensure that there is a planet for future generations.

Image: Kimberly Vardeman, Flickr.

Thomas Denham’s pieces aim to provide an alternative viewpoint to contemporary issues within society. He believes that mainstream medias often tend to reproduce the same rhetoric despite stories differing entirely and this is the result of an obsession with being overly impartial which often causes the truth to be buried. This is something his articles will challenge, although he does believe all sides of a story should be heard, not all sides are relevant and sometimes just noise. He has a BA (HONS) in sociology and is currently studying for a MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds…

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