The Tale of Two Worlds
By Adith Thyagarajan
Above us is Paula the bear. Paula is a responsible mama bear, but when she went hunting for fish with her cubs, a sudden shift occurred. The glacier split, tearing a forceful divide between their loving relationship. Now, Paula is stuck on a small fragment of ice, in the middle of a delirious ocean, surrounded by human clutter.
We all know how big of an issue climate change is. But what we do not know is that two worlds are at stake. One world, surrounded in plants, is where the fittest survive and primal instincts reign. A realm where lions chase gazelles, tigers attack, cheetahs speed across the plains, mosquitoes feed on blood, and the chirps of birds echo across the forest. Many animals live in specific areas with specific temperatures. As the Earth heats up, animals like Paula who live in the Arctic, mountaintops, or any other cold habitat are in big trouble! If the Earth keeps rising in temperature, up to 1/4th of the animal population could perish within the next 100 years!
Coral reefs provide safe habitats for a lot of sea animals. Warmer water has already caused coral bleaching, which happens when the temperature is so hot that it torches the coral, changes its color, and makes it toxic for the animals residing in it. By 2050, live corals could become rare in tropical and sub-tropical reefs due to the combined effects of warmer water and increased ocean acidity caused by more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The loss of coral reefs will reduce habitats for many other sea creatures, and it will disrupt the food web that connects all the living things in the ocean.
There is, however, still a chance to save the coral reefs and the Arctic! How is that? Well, people like us can start donating to charities such as Project AWARE and Polar Bears International that protect and preserve the Arctic habitat among others. To help coral reefs and many sea animals residing in them, people who swim, drive boats, or dive can treat them with better care and help support charities such as The Ocean Conservancy or Coral Reef Alliance.
Another realm is in big trouble. Our realm—civilization as a whole. As Earth’s temperatures rise, there will be more severe storms, fires, droughts, and rising seas. Rising temperatures could provoke heat stroke, heat exhaustion, hyperthermia, and dehydration in extreme ways that could lead to death. These could harm many civilians, and that is a cost that we aren’t willing to bear. Further, there might come an increase in anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, veterans with preexisting mental health issues had nearly a 7 times greater risk for developing other mental health issues. Suicide attempts after Katrina among women living increased 15 times compared to regional averages and violent crimes rose substantially.
But, how can we beat climate change? We could donate to charities that take action against climate change such as The Blue Planet Foundation, use energy wisely—for example, if you aren’t using the faucet, turn it off to save water—try to grow your own gardens, and most importantly, spread the message!!
Right now, two worlds are at stake. Humanity is at a crossroads. Our negligence in the past decades have made things worse. If we do not take action, the Earth as we know it might cease to exist. If the government refuses to act, it is up to us citizens to do the right thing. Together, I truly believe, we can implement change and save these two realms.