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The Clock is Ticking on Climate Change

It’s time to start talking about clocks, but not the ones that start over at the end of the day. The clock I’m talking about is one that will count down the time it will take, at the current rate, to keep warming under a 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

One of these climate clocks has been displayed on the Metronome’s digital clock in Manhattan. According to the clock, there are seven years and less than 70 days left to succeed at decreasing emissions. The climate clock is a daily reminder that the world needs to act.

Most of our conversations about the world today have centered around the upcoming presidential election and COVID-19. While these are important issues to concern ourselves with, the environment is not going to let us just forget what is happening beyond those issues. Hurricanes on the coast, the derecho in Iowa, and wildfires in the western states are the environment’s way of reminding us that these problems are going to continue regardless of the other issues we face.

wildfire on rolling hills
Photo by Skeeze from Pixabay

These issues can seem daunting when we think about everything it’s going to require to overcome them. It is important to get out into nature and remember that we can’t advocate for nature if we don’t foster our relationship with it. We also can not think clearly about how to solve environmental problems if we feel overwhelmed about them.

We make decisions everyday that use carbon unnecessarily. Our personal choices could be as simple as deciding to walk over taking our cars to campus, or deciding to carpool with our friends instead of driving somewhere separately. However, if we intend to make a larger difference, these personal decisions are not enough. 

man driving vehicle with GPS system turned on
Photo by Dan Gold from Unsplash

First, we need to recognize our part and hold ourselves accountable for our contributions to this world-wide issue. It may not seem like an individual can make a difference, but it can. It all comes down to our travel, shopping, eating and voting habits. 

Knowledge is power but so is recognizing the difference between a want and a need. We live in a society that pressures us into buying the next best thing and jumping on the latest trend without ever asking ourselves if we needed it or just wanted it. Material things will not make our stress go away, they will not solve our relationship problems and they will not save the planet. The pressure is on to start changing our behavior. Earth does not need humanity, but humanity needs Earth. 

If we had a clock similar to Manhattan’s in Iowa City, would people rethink their daily decisions and start walking more often, eating less meat, shopping at second-hand stores, voting for government officials who fight for environmental action? Or, would we become desensitized to environmental issues altogether? If we discuss environmental issues on social media, will that be enough to change people’s minds? These are all questions to ask ourselves moving forward. Meanwhile, the clock is still ticking and eventually time will run out.



Delaney is a journalism major with a certificate in sustainability at the University of Iowa. Her dream career is to become a Marine Biologist and advocate for the environment through research and writing. In her free time, she enjoys music, friends, and the occasional ice cream venture (Okay, maybe not so occasional).
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