Rita Luikart.

Most people have heard about climate change, the current distortion in our world’s temperature and weather.

Rising temperatures, caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, affect our weather. The CO2 is produced by burning fossil fuels, including coal and gasoline. Carbon dioxide comes out of internal combustion engines, including cars and trucks, and is produced by burning the gas that is used for cooking or in outdoor fireplaces.

Time is running out for us to take action to control climate change. The longer we wait, the worse conditions will be in the future. This concerns me, because as a 13-year-old, I worry what the planet will be like when my generation moves to adulthood.

Climate change is already damaging our world in many ways. The world’s oceans are among its main victims of the global-warming trend. As the planet gets hotter, our oceans are absorbing the higher temperatures and sucking up carbon dioxide, which hurts the animals and their ecosystems that have always thrived there. For example, jellyfish and porpoises are already strongly affected.

Warmer temperatures mean larger breeding and living areas for jellyfish. This sounds like a positive effect, but it not only means that more people are more likely to get stung, but larger jellyfish populations will have a negative effect on other ocean species. Porpoises and orcas are directly affected in a negative way. Fossil fuels from boats and sewage pipelines spill into their home waters, creating a dangerous environment.

Our waste also harms the seas. Dolphins can become tangled in old nets and hooks. More plastic than you can imagine crowds our oceans. The waste plastic and other garbage can come from trash dumps, litter blown out to sea, or even from your own backyard. Sea turtles eat plastic bags when they mistake them for jellyfish. Waste plastic, such as water bottles, shrinks over time and breaks apart. The tiny particles become micro-plastics, which are a danger to sea life, because whales or fish may eat them, thinking the plastic fragments are krill or shrimp. We eat the seafood and the plastic inside of them.

Both climate change and trash are very dangerous, not only to the animals of our oceans, but to us as well. Individuals can help the problem by doing some simple things, such as not allowing water containing fertilizer to flow into storm drains. Use recyclable bags for shopping; avoid plastic bags and water bottles. You can also help by not littering or leaving garbage behind; if you see trash on the ground (tiny plastic included), please, pick it up. Nevadans can work with a local organization like Keep Tahoe Blue to clean our local spaces and do other service work.

My generation will inherit the planet. We’d like to be able to live on it, and enjoy the oceans and the environment as it is naturally supposed to be. Both children and adults can help make sure that climate change and waste don’t forever make the Earth unlivable.

But the clock is ticking.

Rita Luikart, 13, is in the eighth grade at Mountain View Montessori School in Reno.

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1 Comment

  1. Most of us know this, and vote accordingly, however, climate change deniers will continue denying until Lake Tahoe boils dry 🙁

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