Local Climate Change

By Alex Gryciuk

Counting down the time until the destruction of all of humanity with each minute, The Climate Clock, launched on September 19, 2020, displays how much time humans have left before their activities affect the delicate climate beyond a point of no return. In other words, it shows a tangible timeline of how much more carbon emissions humans can produce before the global climate reaches 1.5 Celsius hotter on average. This begs the question: what can we do as a population to change?

Climate change, as defined by the United Nations, is the “long term shifts in temperature and weather patterns” that since the 1800’s have been mainly caused by human activity rather than natural events such as volcanic eruptions. These shifts are mostly caused by fuel emissions from machines, oil and gasoline, manufacturing, and agriculture. 

Overall, the increase of global temperatures has devastating effects on the whole globe: more recent floods, droughts, intense rainstorms, heat waves, rising seawater levels, and more acidic ocean water. On a more local level, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, climate change can have serious effects on society like more socioeconomic inequalities due to natural disasters, more disease and destruction caused by flooding and limiting agricultural growth that can lead to food insecurity. In other words, even though climate change affects the globe, it also seriously affects local weather and daily life, emphasizing the importance of understanding pollution in our local area: the Bay Area. 

The Bay Area, according to the Washington Post, has a higher risk of exposure to “floating microscopic pollutants, fine particulate matter… known as PM2.5” than recommended by the WHO due to pollution from refineries and other carbon emitting machinery. In total, there are nineteen refineries that pollute the air with harmful air pollutants such as ​​“BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene)” according to the EPA. Furthermore, the Bay Area Telegraph reports that around 900,000 to 1,200,000 cars are driven everyday. Each car, found by a report conducted by the EPA, emits “about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year” if driven about 11,500 miles a year. Additionally, fifteen landfills that release “ammonia, sulfides, methane, and carbon dioxide” greenhouse gasses, reside in the Bay Area. Though liberal and more environmentally conscious, the Bay Area definitely has room for improvement in regards to carbon emissions. 

Some things that you can do to help fight climate change on a local level include limiting food waste and the amount of organic matter that go into landfills, walking and biking instead of driving, and wasting less energy by turning off what you don’t use when you leave a room. When thinking about such a colossal issue that will affect generations to come, it sometimes helps to not only understand local pollution, but also enact change on a smaller scale. Think not only global, but local when addressing the issue of climate change. Be the change you want to see.