This is the winning essay in the Plumas County League of Women Voters annual essay contest.
What We Can Do About Climate Change
By Natalie Michele Davis
Quincy Junior/Senior High School, 11th grade
The global sea level has risen about 8 inches in the last century. This event is one effect related to climate change, which is global warming, driven by the human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the result of a large shift in weather patterns. The effects of climate change can be drastic, such as an increase in heat, which leads to more droughts and wildfires. These damaging effects in Plumas County are visible with the wildfires that take place annually. To tackle climate change here, we must start rethinking transportation, conserve water, and protect our forests.
Anyone can start by taking control of their carbon footprint. According to The United States Environmental Protection Agency, “The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.” Transportation made up 28.2 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 due to burning fossil fuel for cars, trucks, trains, and planes. Because of the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the planet experiences rising temperatures, which directly dries out Plumas County’s backyard. This issue is why everyone should make smart choices with transportation; it could mean riding a bike to work or school or even carpooling. These options are both feasible and healthier alternatives for those that live in Plumas County to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that goes into the air.
The most urgent way to tackle climate change in Plumas County is to maintain and take care of our forests. This response means planting trees or making sure to clear dead debris from the forest floors. People may ask why it is necessary to take care of the forests or why they should conserve water. It might seem pointless, but it is so important to take care of the place we live in, especially when that place is highly in danger of wildfires. In the article, The science connecting wildfires to climate change, National Geographic says, “… warmer air temperatures dry the forests and other vegetation.” This issue maximizes the burnable fuel that surrounds our homes, so without maintaining our forest, the potential for fire only intensifies. Another great option is to conserve water or use water resourcefully since many regions, such as Plumas County, experience droughts. So the sooner we start conserving water, the better off we will be when our forests are in desperate need of it.
Climate change is a problem that can only be solved if everyone does their part to manage their carbon footprint, conserve water, and protect our forests. It starts by choosing the proper transportation that puts the least carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Then it is critical to take good care of the forest by managing vegetation, planting new trees, and not wasting valued water in order to improve climate change. Plumas County is small, but if everyone does their part, then we will be able to see a shift in the annual catastrophic fires that threaten the place we call home.