Teacher speaks out about Earth’s troubles; pollution, fossil fuels, renewable resources

Colby Criss, Reporter

     In present times, we are being bombarded by issue after issue. According to BBC News, “[Covid-19] is surging in many regions and countries that had apparent success in suppressing initial outbreaks are also seeing infections rise again.” and we are also struggling with economic turbulence as we try to overcome the recession from March of this year according to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. However, we tend to forget the problems the planet we live on is facing.

     We are experiencing a ton of problems with our oceans. According to NOAA, “global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has increased in recent decades. Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year”. We are also dealing with the troubles of global warming. According to NASA, global warming is being caused by “human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere”.

    Earth and Environmental Systems teacher Timothy Dougherty gave his thoughts about our current global climate. “I do not think that we are protecting the planet well at all. We are in the middle of a catastrophe and unfortunately not recognizing how bad it is getting around the world.” Dougherty said about our planet’s current state. On the subject of pollution, Dougherty stated that “pollution of many types is severely damaging our planet but the problem of carbon dioxide and how it is creating the climate catastrophe is the number one worst thing we face”.

    Dougherty also gave his stance on what we should do to help our planet.“The number one thing we should do is dedicate every resource possible to changing all energy systems to renewable forms as soon as possible,” Dougherty said. What renewable forms could we choose? According to EIA, the forms of renewables are “geothermal, solar, wood, hydro, and wind energy”. While “fossil fuels—coal, petroleum, and natural gas—have been the major sources of energy” according to EIA, hydroelectric usage has been on the rise, accounting for 30% according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

   Dougherty showed his optimism of a lesser-used fossil fuel world, stating “with strong leadership, we can have all countries working together to end the use of fossil fuels in this decade.” We have had agreements towards climate change in the past. According to UNFCCC, “the Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius”. However, according to the White House the United States cut ties with the agreement in June 2017. This shows that not every country may be ready to give up their fossil fuel addiction just yet.