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Generational Responsibility for Climate Change

“Climate change causes extinction!”

In policy debate, we often casually throw around hyperbolic extinction scenarios ranging from nuclear war with China to endocrine disruption. However, most rational people discuss catastrophic world-ending potential only in terms of global warming, and for good reason – anthropogenic climate change is a scientific certainty, and according to a comprehensive study published in Science, which combined 131 previously published studies, 16% of species will go extinct from global warming by the end of the century.

Naysayers like Donald Trump, who tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” find solace in the imperceptible effects of climate change thus far. Regardless of whether or not the Chinese were behind it, many Fox News reporters staunchly maintain that warming is a media-exaggerated hoax, indignantly pointing out snowfall in New York and Chicago.

Though snow is indeed still falling, we’re already seeing the effects of climate change, and they’re not pretty. In a report by Time Magazine, climate change has already led to two million environmental refugees in Syria, exacerbating social unrest and political strife. In fact, the Pentagon called climate change a “threat multiplier.”

Unfortunately, the situation will only get worse, as a group of twenty-one youths (ages 8-19) know. They are suing Obama and the federal government over climate change, claiming that their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property are being violated, and that young people – who will have to deal with the consequences of an environmentally-ravaged world – are being discriminated against.

Regardless of who you think is responsible – Obama and the government, wealthy western countries who began the process of industrialization, or even humanity as a whole – climate change must be stopped. If kids our age and younger are trying to do something, even if they’re simply pushing a symbolic but ultimately ineffectual lawsuit, we at CPS must also confront one of the most important issues of our time.

We’re already engaging in efforts to try to reduce our environmental footprint. For example, Mr. Tucker’s advisory group recently created a system to nominate other advisory groups to pick up trash. The Green Team is working on ways to promote sustainability. Most students at least make an effort to recycle. However, none of this is enough – from the mounds of trash on the picnic tables after lunch, to faucets left dripping, we must further embrace our duty to the Earth and to each other.

Our generation will likely determine the fate of our planet and our species. And that’s not an exaggeration.

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