In a recent report from CNN, weather experts predicted that in fall 2021, climate change could delay the onset of autumn. According to the Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) three-month outlook for September through November, the next few months are expected to bring high temperatures, increased rainfall, and hurricane activity — which we’ve tragically witnessed already, as millions of people from Louisiana to New York City struggle to navigate the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The past few days have been yet another somber reminder that climate change is very real, has dire impacts on the well-being of our planet and its people, and yes — we need to take it seriously. Whether you’re heading back to college this semester or you’re gearing up for your favorite fall traditions, experts say to be wary; when it comes to the outdoors, fall 2021 may not be as fun as you think.
At this point, it’s no secret that climate change is arguably the most pressing issue facing our world today, given that it impacts — you know — the existence of our entire planet and its inhabitants. I don’t know about you, but I love Earth. I love living. I also love fall, and I don’t want to see any of those things go away anytime soon. Like you, after over a year of being cooped up at home (for good reason!), I’m ready to carve pumpkins, gather around a fire pit with friends, and feel crunchy leaves under my boots. However, experts say that warm temperatures and drought could hinder the crisp, cool days we’re all yearning for this back-to-school season.
In fact, due to the extreme weather conditions, the leaves may not even change colors this year in certain parts of the United States. Yes, you read that right. That beautiful blend of red, orange, and yellow foliage you know and love relies on a good combo of temperature and moisture, and if conditions are too extreme, trees can go into “survival mode” early to prepare for winter. Thus, no pretty colors. Fall foliage may make for a festive backdrop for your IG feed, but when nature is stressed out, even the leaves mute their colors. Just like you’re probably overwhelmed about the first week of classes, the trees are, too. So why not pay attention to the environment during a season when we celebrate it’s beauty the most?
As for sweater weather, this season may be more like “sweaty weather.” Warmer fall temperatures — largely amplified by the impacts of climate change — are on the way for the next three months. Wildfires in California and the Northwest could get worse. Those brisk evenings or chilly mornings grabbing coffee on campus may come later in the season than we’d like. These little things may seem trivial, but what is fall without those iconic moments? When you don’t pay attention to climate change, it’s easy to miss the changes in our environment. They may seem tiny, but they’re significant — and they add up over a long period of time.
Tackling climate change (on top of your already-stressful back-to-school transition) can feel overwhelming, but the truth is, it’s not the sole responsibility of young people to save the planet. We need institutions, corporations, and people in power to step up and help create real change — from sustainability efforts to legislation and beyond. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that it’s impossible to solve the problem of climate change overnight, and that a little goes a long way. Whether it’s learning from a documentary, making sustainable swaps in your dorm room, or advocating for environmental awareness through your passion projects, your daily actions matter more than ever.
Everyone deserves to enjoy the fall season, whether it’s rocking cottagecore, enjoying November tailgates, or making yourself the main character listening to Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers. However, if we’re not careful, we may not get to enjoy this charming, romantic season in quite the same way as years past. Temperatures are rising, and nature is rapidly changing as a result of climate change. While it may seem like an overwhelming issue to solve, it’s time to start caring for the planet. If you want to enjoy your pumpkin spice lattes, start paying attention to climate change. I promise, the cause is worth more than any grande cup.