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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Human life on Earth has impacted the climate since the mid-20th century. I personally function more like a lizard than a human, though. I’m basically cold-blooded! I look forward to sweating in the heat each year as summertime rolls around. I am ready to bask in the rays of the sun like a rock skink in Australia.  

I love getting into my black interior car and practically burning my thighs on the seat. The warmth is weirdly refreshing. What is causing the globe to radiate heat like the inside of my VW Beetle?  

The average temperature of the earth has increased 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century. According to NASA, this spike is caused by “carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities.”

“Human activities” is a pretty vague term, though. A few problematic activities include burning fossil fuels, transporting coal, treating wastewater and breeding livestock. A mixture of gases is gathering in the atmosphere, and NASA claims these gases are “thickening the Earth’s blanket.” 

ocean wave surfing guy
Photo by guille pozzi from Unsplash

The ocean’s top layer (about 328 feet) has warmed up 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. Going to the beach kind of sucks when the water is chilly. You know those beach days where the sun hides behind the clouds, and you just want to wrap up in your towel? Imagine if the entire ocean was a hot tub! A trip to the sea would become the ultimate saltwater spa experience. Why wouldn’t you want to swim in a huge natural Jacuzzi?

I hope it’s obvious that I’m joking, and I also hope that you aren’t a climate change denier. The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project found that 13% of Americans believe that the climate is changing but “but human activity is not responsible at all.” Another 5% believe that the climate simply isn’t changing. Only Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have a higher percentage of climate change skeptics than the United States. 

Climate change isn’t just about spicier temperatures, which is why the term “global warming” doesn’t cut it. The phenomenon also brings more wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. While I like being warmer, it isn’t worth destroying the future of our planet at an alarming rate.

satellite image of a large hurricane
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

It is undeniable that humans are to blame for the global temperature rise, but it’s important to remember that individuals are not the ones at fault. I always feel a little guilty when I do something that isn’t eco-friendly, like throwing away single-use plastic. I have to remind myself that my little actions aren’t the real issue. You shouldn’t stop bringing your reusable bags to the grocery store or refusing the plastic straw, but that isn’t where the big changes need to happen. 

While our individual efforts to help the planet shouldn’t be discounted, real changes need to happen on a much larger scale. The largest investor-owned companies that emit greenhouse gases are Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell. These four companies are responsible for more than 10% of the world’s carbon emissions since 1965

These corporations need to set aside short-term profit goals and think about their long-term environmental impacts. It isn’t too late to reverse at least some of the damage, and I will happily put on a jacket to do so. 

Abigail "Abby" Reasor is a senior at VCU. She is majoring in public relations and minoring in French. She loves to talk about Disney World and vegan food.
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