An Opinion from a Young Writer at WiRED International
BY OLIVIA SPIRITO; EDITED BY BERNICE BORN
A Personal Comment
(Archived story. Original version is here.)
My name is Olivia Spirito. I am presently a senior in high school, and I am a volunteer at WiRED. I believe that climate change is putting my generation and future generations at risk. Weather-related threats such as floods, hurricanes, droughts and forest fires will cause environments to become inhospitable. The lives of people who survived the recent forest fires in California (November 2018), the destructive Alabama tornado (March 2019) and the current raging flood in Afghanistan have been drastically changed forever. It is my hope that I and my future family will have a chance to live comfortably without the fear of uncontrollable factors like these catastrophic events.
A global protest on March 15, 2019, will be led by youth activists from 30 countries to get the attention of public leaders and officials to treat climate change as an emergency. Specifically, lawmakers in the United States are considering legislation to protect the right to a safe climate. The March event, “School Strike 4 Climate,” is not just a one-day affair but the beginning of an intense demand for real action and solutions. Teens and young adults are the engines behind this movement to stop climate change. I am adding my voice to that movement.
The impact of climate change on the environment affects the health and well-being of everyone around the world. As a result, climate change fits into my work at WiRED and the One Health Philosophy it brings to its global health education mission. Being among my generation of activists is empowering. It is time to take global climate change seriously and take action before it’s too late.
Drastic climate changes and devastating weather events are causing farms to suffer, which directly impacts populations worldwide. Floods and droughts are resulting in crop loss and soil erosion. These weather crises lead to food shortages, which impoverish farmers and cause entire populations to go hungry. If the loss of farmland continues, food will become scarce, and people will starve. My generation wants to lead long healthy lives without the fear of job loss, starvation and homelessness.
Climate change doubters argue that severe record-low winters mean that global warming doesn’t exist. Indeed Earth’s temperatures have fluctuated up and down throughout its geological history. The difference today is that many areas of the world are experiencing extreme and rapid climate change, which includes BOTH rising temperatures and plunging temperatures, with drastic consequences.
When people burn so much fossil fuel, large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, increasing the speed and severity of climate change. I know many eco-friendly alternatives can work equally if not more effectively than traditional fossil fuels. Powerful energy companies continue to make billions off of these hazardous fuels. Additionally, lobbyists in Washington make money promoting fossil fuels. So the question for me and people my age is, at what cost? The money is not worth the environmental risks and the enormous damage to my generation and generations to follow.
Olivia Spirito joined WiRED International in August 2017 and now serves as a staff writer for our main website. She has contributed significantly to our international mission through penning articles whose topics include health observance days, the launches of our health learning modules, people overseas who benefit from our training programs, interviews with our volunteers and more. Ms. Spirito is finishing her last year of secondary school and will move on to college in the fall to major in health sciences on a pre-health track to prepare to become a physician assistant.