The Earth is Getting Hot, and I Bet You Don’t Wanna Live on Mars

A foggy view of the city

Used with permission from: Cliff Mass Whether Blog

by Sienna Johnson, Reporter

Due to greenhouse gasses, the earth has been getting hotter. But what can be do to make sure Washington doesn’t become Florida 2.0? The ozone layer being open has been an issue we’ve all heard about since kindergarten, but how many differences does the average person make in their day to make sure Rudolph and the gang don’t have to learn how to swim?

“[Teenagers] talk big that they care about the environment and that climate change is a big deal to them…but look outside during the morning and how many are taking the bus?” Andy Campbell, a Central Kitsap High School environmental science teacher, said. 

Many young adults will agree if you ask them if they care about climate change, but many do not think about the size of the carbon footprint they leave everyday. Campbell makes some observations about the things the average people do that would go against the desire to make improvements to the environment. 

“Why aren’t students fighting for the parking lot to have designated carpool spots, so that you can make a difference,” Campbell said. “I mean, the biggest difference we can make individually is whatever contribution we can [make] to consumption, like with gasoline”. 

Campbell also implored young people in the community to wonder why they are not fighting for these changes and to consume less.

“We can’t convince you here in school that what we do as individuals matters 40 years from now” Campbell said. 

Extreme weather changes and extreme weather events are definitely things we have already been facing in recent years. Florida has had two back to back devastating hurricanes, last year there was a tornado warning in Bremerton, and many people have felt the heatwave we’ve been having, something that would have been insane 10 years ago.

Washington state has earned itself a reputation from residents as a very rainy, wet state. During recent times we have now changed to having many long weeks with no rain and heat waves that can last an entire month. Those who have lived in Washington state in decades past do note that we have noticeably shifted to being dryer, and during the summer the climate can resemble that of Eastern Washington or Northern California with how high the temperature can get. 

During the winter months, it has also been felt by citizens that it gets colder than in years past. Many residents will remember the “Snowmageddon” that happened during winter break in 2018. The pacific northwest was once an area that was known to have moderate weather usually that didn’t require most long-time inhabitants to wear more than a hoodie on a day to day basis. 

Yet we have been having days that can get up to 80 in the middle of October. Many like to dismiss climate change as a non issue, but even if it is not happening right outside your house does not mean it is not there. 

“We didn’t plan on the under melting of glaciers, so there is actually a small layer of water running through like an underground river,” Campbell stated, “It’s actually lubricating the glacier so it can move right off.” 

Large glaciers melting and sliding off into the sea is becoming a growing problem for our planet. Ice in Greenland and Antarctica are melting and sliding off into the ocean at an alarming rate and rising sea levels. Rising sea levels can be devastating to people living on coasts and on islands, with the shoreline climbing higher and higher forcing them to leave homes in imminent danger of flooding in the next five to ten years. 

Many people who live in suburbia have lawns and gardens they take care of, they don’t realize that taking care of a mostly grass lawn takes a lot of water and fertilizing can poison a water table. Another big contributor to water table mayhem are places that need large areas of pristine green grasses, like golf courses. The average golf course uses three to six pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of land a year. This amount of fertilizer can seep into the water table and poison a water source used by local wildlife. An average household lawn with green grass year round would need to use a similar amount of nitrogen fertilizer. Most grasses that are in lawns need this amount of fertilizer and a large amount of water to keep grass green, while plants that naturally can grow in the forests in the area would require less help to stay healthy. 

“You plant grass and then we like to use all sorts of fertilizer, chemicals. gets into the water table, which causes algae blooms in the ocean, and in lakes and stuff which cause all sorts of other issues,” said Ken Henrichsen, CKHS science teacher. 

Once these issues hit the water table, it affects the way that ocean life can live. Crabs and other shellfish need the water to have the right levels of calcium carbonate. 

“Higher acidity of the ocean is causing problems for the plankton, you know, when they’re babies trying to make their shells and it’s eating away the shells of the adults that’s making them weaker,” Henrishsen said. 

Most people do not know about the things they do everyday that pile up and become their carbon footprint. Most people drive by themselves and don’t carpool, they buy food and drinks in single use plastics, or they over consume products like meat, plastic, oil, or gasoline. Of course everyday citizens do what they can to help the environment on a daily basis like Katie Staker, a biology teacher at CKHS. 

“I quit eating meat… for me it was for environmental reasons, and I was looking for the biggest impact that I could personally have on  the environment” Staker said. “I think that the next step would be to change my purchasing habits because I think the accountability lies in industry.”

Of course we know that the environment is a controversial and difficult to solve problem we need to address, and we as a people should demand change through government policies, and change from industries but until then, we can be mindful of what we do everyday, like taking public transport, using reusable cups when ordering coffee, recycling and wear our clothes for as long as possible instead of getting rid of them once they are out of style.