This Topsy-Turvy Winter: Blame Climate Change

Last week’s winter storm piling first snow and then freezing rain on Roxborough and the entire region was just the latest in a long string of severe storms rocking us this winter—with more to come. And the storms have been far worse elsewhere, as several dozen Americans have now died from severe winter weather from Texas into New England. 

That’s a stark and strange contrast to last winter, when almost no snow fell at all, when there were no snow days the entire winter. Just when we thought that last year’s extreme might be the new normal, that climate change had made even snow an endangered species, Old Man Winter came roaring back this year with a vengeance. 

You’d think people like me who continually warn about global warming would be wrong. Think again.

“This week’s storms,” read an Associated Press story widely published in newspapers across the country, “fit a pattern of worsening extremes under climate change and demonstrate anew that local, state, and  federal officials have failed to do nearly enough to prepare for greater and more dangerous weather.”

And that dangerously liberal newspaper, USA Today, asked the key question last week in its headline: “Record cold, intense storms and tornadoes amid global warming: Could there be a connection?” The answer, sadly, is yes. 

Rae Hearts Design & Photography

For the last few years, I have been warning that Philadelphia’s climate was becoming hotter, wetter, and weirder. While this weather is decidedly not hotter—more on that in a second—it has been wetter this year, and wow is it ever weirder. That’s one of the downsides of climate change, that our weather wildly vacillates among extremes: too hot, then too wet, then too dry, then thunderstorms of too much intensity. 

For in addition to last week’s snowstorms, a tornado killed three people in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, the second deadly tornado and third significant tornado of a very young 2021. Tornadoes in winter? Yes, that’s weird.

Let’s start with the simple notion that what goes up must come down. A warming climate—remember, globally the six warmest years on record are the last six years—creates more evaporation: more water vapor rising into the atmosphere to form more clouds. All that water vapor can’t stay there forever; gravity makes it come down eventually, and in winter it may come down as snow or sleet. So last week’s storm covered a wide swath of the United States, dumping snow on 100 million Americans. At one point recently, some 75% of the country was under a blanket of snow. That’s weird.

About that cold. First, our winters now average almost five degrees warmer than they did 50 years ago, and the mercury has not dipped below zero in more than 25 years. Our winters are trending noticeably warmer, even with this cold spell.

To explain this year’s winter, we need to travel to the Arctic circle. In a more typical winter, the polar vortex—that gigantic circular upper-air weather pattern that covers the North Pole—is kept in place by the jet stream, which essentially pens it in. In any winter, the jet stream can wobble or weaken, allowing the polar vortex to slide down into North America. That happens every year. 

Enter climate change. “There is evidence,” said University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd in that same USA Today article, “that climate change can weaken the polar vortex, which allows more chances for frigid Arctic air to ooze into the Lower 48.” Piling on, climate scientist Jennifer Francis, who has published a study on the phenomenon, said in 2019 that “warm temperatures in the Arctic cause the jet stream to take these wild swings, and when it swings farther south, that causes cold air to reach farther south.”

And the data clearly shows the Arctic circle is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, and Arctic Ocean ice has retreated to its lowest levels in, well, ever in recorded history. In January 2021, Arctic Ocean ice measured almost 400,000 square miles below the 198–12010 average. The Arctic is warming, and the jet stream is wobbling.

Francis called the recent weather “a major breakdown” of the polar vortex. “It’s been unusual for a few weeks now—very, very crazy,” she concluded. “Totally topsy-turvy.”

One last thought. Texas has been notably slammed by this winter’s wild weather, and people are freezing and even dying under blackout conditions. It’s absolutely horrible. But that state’s governor oddly chose to blame the Green New Deal and wind turbines for this breakdown. Please don’t swallow this whopper. Texas long ago decided to be independent in its electrical grid to avoid federal regulation, and has resisted advocates asking the state to weatherize its system. Texas is sadly paying the price for avoiding this action.

Wind turbines played no role there. But climate has played a huge role in the weirding of this winter’s weather.

–Written by Mike Weilbacher
Photos by Rae Hearts Design & Photography

Biden: A Breath of Fresh Air on the Climate Front

Last Wednesday, after months of drama culminating in an insurrection, Joe Biden was peacefully inaugurated as our 46th president. For the environment, this was both a literal and figurative breath of fresh air, as on that same day he signed executive orders reversing key Trump administration actions on climate, including having the US rejoin the Paris climate accord.

And not a moment too soon.

The hottest years on record, with 2020 coming in second only to 2016. Graph courtesy of Climate Central.

As the above graph shows, 2020, now in the history books, was the second warmest year on record, coming very close to 2016’s record. More worrisome, the last eight years all cracked the top 10, a sure sign of a trend, and the hottest 10 years ever occurred in the 21st century.

“A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” the new president noted very early in his swearing-in speech, “a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear.” He’s right. 2020 began with huge wildfires burning through Australia, and ended with western American wildfires racing through the fiercest fire season ever. One megafire, California’s worst ever, torched more than 1 million acres; five of the six largest wildfires in that state’s history happened only last fall.

Meanwhile, a record number of storms made landfall in America, our named storms running out of the alphabet. In late June, the temperature of the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk topped 100 degrees, yes, a very scary record. A quarter of Bangladesh was flooded by monsoons in 2020, impacting four million people, and the Arctic Ocean saw continued record melt, measuring the second smallest ice cover ever since measuring began in the 1970s.

For me, someone who has been teaching and writing about climate change since the 1980s, the last four years were extraordinarily hard. I’ve been saying for years– and so have many others—that we have a small window of opportunity to effectuate change on climate. But the Trump team took the nation in the exact opposite direction, erasing so many gains we were making on so many issues like climate change and habitat loss, on energy efficiency and renewable energy. There is still a window of opportunity—but that window has been closing, and we just lost four precious years that we will never get back.

Just like with COVID, the metaphoric breath of fresh air is a team of professionals who believe the government plays a role in climate change and will use science to inform smart policy. No more lies about climate change being a Chinese hoax. Data will matter again, so will truth. Science has a seat at the Biden table; Biden and his team will tell us how bad it is getting, not tell us that black is white, green is bad, and everything will be fine. And no more science policy delivered via Twitter.

That Biden can even say the phrase “climate change” aloud in public speeches, is also, sadly a huge, welcome, and a necessary breath of fresh air.

So imagine my delight when the president named former Secretary of State John Kerry—experienced, polished, with every world leader on his speed dial already—as his international presidential envoy on climate change. He will be at the Paris accord table, along with 194 other nations.

We, along with Libya and Iraq, are among the very few holdouts, the world’s climate pariahs. How’s that for company? Not many democracies have held out from the climate accord. Even India and China have signed on, so with us back in the game, the world’s top three carbon polluters are at the table. Hallelujah. Just in time.

Even better, Biden has assembled a diverse climate team around him. Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy heads the new White House Office of Climate Policy, and New York’s Ali Zaidi will serve as her lieutenant. North Carolina’s top environmental regulator, Michael Regan, an African-Amercan gentleman, will lead the Biden EPA, and Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico will lead the Department of the Interior, a landmark choice as she becomes the first Native American to do so. And former governor Michigan Jennifer Granholm will become Secretary of Energy.

His climate team looks like America: men and women of all ethnicities. This is key on the climate front as environmental justice is another pillar of the Biden green approach. As communities of color are disproportionately impacted by pollution and toxic emissions, and will be disproportionately impacted by a warming world, another of Biden’s executive orders signed that busy first day notes that “where the Federal Government has failed to meet that commitment in the past, it must advance environmental justice.” And the Green New Deal sneaks in here, as that same order says the government needs to “prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals.”

For decades, people like me have been arguing against the false dichotomy of jobs vs. the environment. To badly mix metaphors, we can have our environmental cake and afford to eat it too. Time to put that dichotomy behind us.

So the metaphoric breath of fresh air was the tone and content of last Wednesday’s speeches and actions, a refreshing change. But more important was the literal one, the cleaner air you and your children will be breathing if we—finally, at long last—take this greener path.

—Written by Mike Weilbacher, Executive Director

 

White Christmas: Another Endangered Species

Last week’s snow was thankfully kind to us. Though 6.3 official inches fell at the airport, it was not the foot that might have been and was long predicted, nor the ice storm that was also possible, nor the gale force winds that were expected. My staff at the Schuylkill Center breathed easier on Thursday morning when they arrived to shovel us out, as snow, ice, and wind can conspire to cripple our work, toppling trees and branches while causing power outages. So frankly, we’ll take an easier storm.

But temperatures returned to New Abnormal levels this week, as predictions call for a balmy 61 degrees on Christmas Eve. No White Christmas this year. In fact, the last recorded white Christmas occurred in 2009, and even then it didn’t actually snow on the day, but earlier in the week. The last time we recorded an inch or more of snowfall on the holiday was 2002, with only an inch and a half. The record for snowfall on Christmas is a foot, which fell way back in 1966, more than 50 years ago.

And I’m sure you remember that famed Christmas Eve only five years ago when the mercury topped out in the mid-70s, breaking December records as carolers sang in Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts.
So last week’s snowfall may be an odd time to revisit climate change. But it is timely: remember, last week’s snowfall was the first major winter storm in almost 1,000 days, and is 21 times the total amount that fell all last winter. The Schuylkill Center’s facilities team did not have to plow our driveway once last year.

Remember, one weather event is neither proof nor disproof of climate change, so a snowfall in December does not mean all is fine and the climate isn’t broken. What one has to do is look at long-term trends. As the accompanying graph, created by temperature measurements collected by Climate Central in Princeton, shows, Philadelphia’s winter temperatures have warmed by almost five degrees since 1970. Five degrees may not seem like much at first glance, but the planet’s finely tuned climate instrument reacts strongly to even tenths of a degree changes in weather averages. In fact, winter has changed more markedly in Pennsylvania than the other three seasons.

Globally, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies calculates that 2020 has a more than 90 percent chance of becoming the hottest year on record, while NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, gives the year a 54 percent chance, possibly losing out by only a nose to 2016, as NOAA says the first 11 months of 2020 were a mere .02 degrees cooler than record-hot 2016.

Santa, gearing up for this week’s worldwide flight, is in trouble, as his North Pole is warming faster than the rest of the world. “One of 2020’s notable hotspots,” reported Scientific American last week, “has been Siberia… At one point the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk reported 100.4 degrees F. If this figure is verified by the World Meteorological Organization, it would be the first time recorded temperatures above the Arctic Circle have surpassed 100 degrees F.”

Imagine that: a measurement of 100 degrees in the Arctic Circle. Santa is quaking in his boots as the ice caps melt below his feet.

According to NASA, the Earth’s average temperature in November was 56.95 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.75 degrees above the 20th-century norm. Again, these small changes matter.

No matter where 2020 ends up in the standings, it will be warm enough to knock 1998 out of NOAA’s top 10. When that happens, all of the 10 warmest years in their records will have occurred in only the 15 years since 2005 — and the top seven will have occurred since 2014. The statistical odds that this is a random occurrence are slim to none, and each year is now as hot or hotter than the year before.

A 2017 analysis in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society offered that between the late 19th century and 1980, new records for the hottest year would happen about every eight to 11 years, a reasonable rate that makes sense. Since 1981, however, they have been occurring about every three to four years. New records are now the norm.

“So if 2020 takes the top slot,” concluded the normally staid Scientific American, “it will not be entirely unexpected — and will be yet another stark example of how far the Earth’s climate has deviated from its natural course.” As a Goddard scientist told the magazine, “I work for NASA, but it’s not rocket science.”

May all your days be merry and bright nonetheless, though no, all your Christmases will not be white. Yet another casualty of climate change.

—By Mike Weilbacher, Executive Director

Biden: Changing the Climate on Climate Change

When President-elect Joe Biden assumes the presidency in two months, he takes the helm with as many front-burner issues as any president ever, even FDR and Lincoln. He’s got to handle a raging pandemic with its horrific economic fallout, a long overdue reckoning on race, and a collapsing climate. All at once.

Consider climate. As Election Day dawned, a typhoon with gusts of 235 mph plowed into the Philippines to become the strongest storm to make landfall in world history. Here in the Atlantic this year, we set a record with 29 big storms, exhausting the English alphabet and moving into Greek. As David Leonhardt reported in the New York Times, “Nine of those storms became much more intense in the span of a single day, an event that was rare before the planet was as warm as it now is.”

This summer, more than five million acres of the American West burned, and West Coast sooty air was more harmful to breathe than that of smog-choked Indian cities. Worldwide, September was the hottest month ever measured, and 2020 is tracking to be the hottest year ever (of course). The Arctic is melting faster than expected, and sea levels are rising too quickly too. Leonhardt again: “Glaciers are losing more ice each year than can be found in all of the European Alps.”

Climate-denying President Trump had famously withdrawn America from the Paris Agreement on climate, and ironically, the treaty’s timing was such that our participation ended the day after Election Day. No matter how you feel about the treaty, there are at least two relevant facts you should know. For one, 179 countries have formally adopted the plan—that’s out of 195 countries total—and among the few holdouts are Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iran… and us. Great company, right?

And two, the agreement is a loose framework designed to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius—a number scientists agree would be catastrophic. And two, the agreement is a loose framework designed to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius—a number scientists agree would be catastrophic. (We’ve already climbed 1.2 degrees.) Most close watchers of the accord have long agreed it was not enough, so even though the Paris plan was contentious, it would never get us to where we need to be. But at least it got the world around one table talking.                   

Biden has said all along that he will return to the Paris accord, which he reiterated when he was named the winner. In fact, he added Paris to his long list of Day One activities, and he ran on a $2 trillion climate plan, which, while ambitious in scope, was easily more centrist than those promulgated by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But still, it is a solid plan because it has been vetted by a long list of policy experts and scientists. (Radical idea: smart science leads to informed policy choices.)

He began to make good on this promise last week by naming former Secretary of State John Kerry to a new post, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, giving Kerry—who played a key role in brokering the Paris accord—a cabinet-level position and a seat on the National Security Council. Said the formal press release announcing the appointment, “This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue.” 

The heart of the Biden plan is reducing greenhouse gas emissions through both subsidizing clean energy and setting tougher standards for polluting industries. If subsiding green power is problematic for you, remember we have been subsidizing coal and oil for decades. 

His plan is no Green New Deal, the progressive set of ideals that sets conservative hair on fire. For Republicans who fear a Green New Deal, the challenge is for them to place on the table an acceptable, different, science-based plan that still gets us to lower emissions. Lacking an alternative, the Biden plan is all we have at the moment.

But the Green New Deal is also meant to confront two front-burner issues, climate plus our intransigent racial disparities. The New Deal piece of it demands racial justice and economic equality, and wonderfully, clean energy can help immensely here, both by mitigating the impact of a hotter climate on especially poor and minority residents of large cities, but also by offering high-wage skilled-labor jobs. Win-win.

The bad news for Pennsylvania is that the age of fossil fuels is over, and needs to be over. Pennsylvania, of course, is where America’s oil was first discovered in 1859, where huge coal fields have been mined for generations, where coal powered the rise of Bethlehem Steel and the Pennsylvania Railroad, where fracking has been hailed as the future of fuel. But that storm slamming into the Philippines on Election Day reminds us of another reality. Carbon emissions are too high, and need to be drastically reduced. Now.

Sadly, the message that is continually lost in all the noise is that a greener energy future means MORE jobs for Pennsylvanians, not less, as wind and solar ramp up. Too many studies show that clean energy offers far more jobs than coal, which has been dying anyway.

For most of the world, climate change long ago crossed the threshold from heresy to conventional wisdom, and we have a quickly diminishing window of opportunity to address climate. In a Biden presidency, we thankfully finally have a shot, and for that alone I am grateful.

By Mike Weilbacher, Executive Director

Weathering the Storm: How wild weather affects wildlife

Fallen tree limbs and storm damage got you down? If the recent inclement weather and severe storms are having an impact on your neighborhood, imagine what they are doing to the homes and shelters of our smaller wild neighbors!

From downed trees and flooding to high winds and extreme heat, wildlife is feeling the effects of severe weather patterns just as much as humans. The consequences of these storms are clearly seen in the number of animals admitted to the wildlife clinic which are often 4-5 times higher following stormy weather than would be seen on a typical day. Here are some ways you can support your local wildlife before, during, and after severe weather hits.

High winds:

The same soft wood that makes dead trees and boughs appealing to cavity nesting animals like woodpeckers, screech owls, squirrels, and many others, also means those trees are much more likely to fall or be damaged by heavy winds. Installing secure nest boxes on the sides of sturdy living trees gives wildlife a safe place to shelter no matter what weather comes their way.

High temperatures:

Increasing temperatures are hard for wildlife to bear, especially in urban areas where scalding pavement and lack of grassy or shaded areas can make their lives miserable and even dangerous. Plant native trees and shrubs in your yard or neighborhood to provide essential shade and shelter. Bird baths or dishes of water will be readily used by many birds and mammals in the heat of summer and are a great way to safely observe wildlife from home. Just make sure baths are in a semi-sheltered area, are no more than 1-2 inches deep, and are cleaned and filled with fresh water daily to prevent the spread of disease.

Flooding:

Flooding is especially dangerous to mammals and birds who make their nest, den, or burrow on the ground. Baby cottontails are a frequent victim of flooding, as their nests are only shallow depressions in the grass and quickly fill with water in heavy rain. If you know a downpour is in the forecast you can protect rabbit nests by sheltering them with an upside-down wheelbarrow, umbrella, or other covering that will still allow access by the mother. If the nest starts to fill with water, act quickly! Remove the babies from the nest, gently dry them off with a towel and place them in a cardboard box with a heating pad to stay warm. Do not try to feed them but call a wildlife rehabilitator right away for advice on how to reunite them with their mother once the rain stops.

Even if a nest is destroyed by flooding or is blown out of a tree in a storm, it is often possible to reunite the babies with their parents. Keep the displaced animals warm and safe in a cardboard box and call the wildlife clinic for guidance- we can give you instructions for making a replacement nest and reuniting lost babies with mothers. Orphaned birds and mammals quickly become dehydrated during the heat of the day so rapid intervention is important to their survival, and if the babies show any signs of injury they will need professional medical care as soon as possible. Call 215-483-7300x option 2 for assistance with injured or displaced wildlife- we respond to all emergency calls during open hours within 30 minutes or less. For non-emergency wildlife questions, email us at wildlife@schuylkillcenter.org.

By Rebecca Michelin, Wildlife Rehabilitation Consultant

Film Screening: The Story of Plastic

As if the pandemic, the economy, and racial justice were not enough to worry about, as if last week’s hot spell doesn’t remind us that climate change needs to be addressed too, the Schuylkill Center invites you to consider one more threat to your health and well-being: plastics.

On the cusp of the pandemic, Philadelphia was about to ban plastic bags in the city– something many neighboring municipalities have already done, as the rising tide of single-use plastics has come under increasing scrutiny. But plastic bags are just, pardon the pun, the tip of the plastic straw.

For our planet is drowning in plastic waste. Literally. A report from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation estimates that “there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if drastic measures are not taken to move away from our disposable plastic culture.” Today, the world consumes an estimated five trillion plastic bags per year, with only about 1% being recycled. We have produced more plastic bags in the last decade than we did in the previous century.

And don’t get me started about single use plastic water bottles. 

Worse, studies confirm that people are ingesting thousands of microplastic particles year after year, in our food and in our water– yes, microplastics flow through our drinking water– and that human blood carries with it some of the most persistent and toxic chemicals associated with plastic. What all this is doing to our health and well-being is a rising concern. 

To address the issue, a new documentary, “The Story of Plastic,” has been released, and the Schuylkill Center is offering free virtual screenings. When you go to our website at www.schuylkillcenter.org and register for the event, you will receive the link to the screening– which you watch privately whenever you’d like.

On Thursday, July 30, join me at 7 p.m. for a live Zoom conversation about the movie and the issue.

The film takes a sweeping look at the crisis of plastic pollution and its effect on both people and planet. Spanning three continents, the film illustrates the ongoing catastrophe: fields full of garbage, mountains  of trash, rivers and seas clogged with waste, and skies choked with the poisonous emissions from plastic production and processing. With engaging original animation, archival footage beginning in the ‘30s, and first-person accounts, the film shines a bright light on this increasingly important issue.

Many people– including concerned Schuylkill Center staff and members– have already been reducing the amount of single-use plastics we consume, forgoing water bottles, sandwich bags, produce bags and those ubiquitous shopping bags for permanent products. Water bottles are easy, but weaning yourself off shopping bags can be quite the challenge. And there is much more to do.

The plastics industry has long promoted the idea that recycling is the best way to keep plastic out of the landfill, but more than 90% of all the plastic ever produced has not been recycled. Plastic is far more likely to end up in landfills, incinerators, or in the environment than to be recycled, and recycling systems cannot keep up with the huge volume of plastic waste being generated. Plastic recycling is always complicated– you need to first unlock the secret code on the bottom of your yogurt container and then remember which numbered plastic your municipality takes.

Consequently, much of the plastic we ship to recycling facilities– usually in China– are hopelessly contaminated with the wrong plastics. And too much of our plastic is “downcycled” anyway, turned into products like plastic lumber, which itself is not recyclable; neither is that down jacket made from spun plastic bottles. While that one more use is better, it is not classic recycling, where an aluminum can becomes an aluminum can becomes an aluminum can…

While soda and water bottles, milk jugs, and laundry detergent containers are commonly recycled, recycling rates are still shockingly low: half of the PET sold (PET is the plastic in bottles) is never collected for recycling, and only 7% of those bottles collected for recycling are turned into new bottles. 

This has an impact on nature, of course, in addition to the infamous photos of animals like seals and turtles with six-pack rings choking their necks. Earlier this year, a sperm whale washed ashore in Spain, having died from ingesting 64 pounds of plastic debris. Carcasses of sea birds on remote islands have been found– decomposed– with a pile of plastic where their guts would have been; they pick bright floating objects off the ocean surface, which are not jellyfish or dead fish, but are plastics, and die as a result.

The rising tide of plastics is not the happiest story, of course, but it is  an important one, perhaps even a necessary one, as that microplastic floating in your gut and those plastic chemicals in your blood present yet-unknown consequences. Join the conversation; go to our website. See you Thursday on Zoom.

By Mike Weilbacher, Executive Director

A Climate Striker Laments, “We Had to Stop our Education to Teach you a Lesson”

By Mike Weilbacher and Cyan Cuthbert ’23

gear-up-sept-20-27 On September 20, 2019, millions of people– most of them school-age children– engaged in a climate strike, leaving work or school to protest the lack of adult action on climate change. Looking for a student’s perspective on the issue, I approached Roxborough’s acclaimed Saul High School to find a student who might have participated in the climate strike at City Hall. 

Assistant principal Gabriel Tuffs steered me to Cyan Cuthbert, a 14-year-old freshman who lives in Germantown. She elected to leave school that day to join the millions of kids across the planet who climate-striked. I offered her a chance to write to tell you why she is worried about climate change.

Her reference to 12 years comes from a widely reported UN study that gives that number as the timetable to significantly lower carbon emissions– missing that window of opportunity would be hugely problematic, say the authors. But that number is now often used in discussions of climate change as a benchmark, like in the Democratic debates. The reference to Lil Dicky will likely pass most readers by. A Cheltenham native, Lil Dicky is a comic-rapper who released a video, “We Love the Earth,” featuring many prominent entertainers– Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kevin Hart, to name a few– as animated animals in an ear-wormy song that steers kids like Cyan to a website with additional information. Not a fan of the weirdly R-rated song, but whatever it takes.

So with very little editing and in her own voice, here is a Saul freshman writing about her future.  Thank you, Cyan– and thank you Gabe.

I was born in Germany November 26, 2004 at 8:28 a.m. That’s when the world started. Endless Possibilities, the world revolved around me. I had my whole life ahead of me dot-dot-dot now I only have 12 more years.

Both my parents were in the Army. My mom did 13 years, my dad did 10. During this time, my parents did a lot of traveling. They’ve been to Hawaii, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and tons more. I’ve been to a few of those places with them when I was younger but I can barely remember; that’s why I want to travel the world when I get older and graduate college. If I’m doing my math right and I only do four years in college, I’ll be out when I’m 24 or 25. In 12 years I’ll be 26.

I’m pretty sure Lil Dicky said it best in his “We Love the Earth” website when he said, “Everything we do on Earth is having a chain reaction.” Everything we do affects the world in a cycle of things. Once you realize how bad it is you’ll see the sadness behind it too. When the world gets warmer, which is happening, the polar ice caps melt and the water goes into the ocean, then the ocean level rises, then floods occur and people die. The people that survived lose shelter and food. Meanwhile things in the ocean stop working right and people that rely on the ocean for fishing can’t get to it. The reality is they will die of starvation too.

Something crazy I learned throughout this whole thing was that if we let the temperature get only 1 degree Celsius hotter than it is right now there will be no turning back, because if we do, the damage is done.

  The reason I joined this movement and a thing that pushes me to do better is knowing that I am able to save people. We are able to save each other, ourselves, and our beautiful Earth.

September 20, 2019 was the climate strike. I saw so many kids, adults, and elderly people there. It felt so good to know I was a part of the change. It still isn’t right though. It doesn’t make sense, how come we had to stop our education to teach you guys a lesson. I want everybody to know that not all heroes wear capes. You can help and do your part. Every Saturday at 12 p.m. go outside to a nearby park or on your block and just pick up trash. Take a bus or ride your bike to school or work to save gas and help stop polluting our air. That’s what some of my teachers do at W.B. Saul High School.

I’m going to use Lil Dicky’s basketball analogy. We’re in the 4th quarter, a timeout has been called and we have the ball. We need a plan because we only have one more shot, if we make it we win (survival), but if we miss the shot we lose (death). We can win the game if we change three things; how we create our food energy and nature watch all of the welovetheearth.org videos to find out how.