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Global warming is still a pressing threat, even in the wake of the coronavirus.

The levels of greenhouse gas emissions are continuously and rapidly increasing, and with that increase comes dangerous and deadly consequences. The earth’s average temperature is expected to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) as soon as 2030, and with levels increasing survival will be extremely difficult, maybe even impossible by the time it reaches two degrees Celsius, according to The New York Times.

Without drastic changes, new initiatives and innovative innovative technology will be needed to start the process of reducing those emissions, we’ll have to look at the more likely possibility that the earth will reach 2.5-3 degrees Celsius within the next 30 years, which will kill billions of marine and terrestrial life, including humans. It’s partly up to governments to start making decisions and to find the money to deploy technology that can help get cut toxins out of the air as an initial effort to save our planet.

As humans, we’ve all contributed to the addition of pollutants into the air we breathe, the toxic waste we expose to other living creatures and the environment and countless other harmful actions that make the earth less safe. Humans are the inadvertent cause of global warming and unless we realize that we’re the problem and change needs to occur, no improvements will be made. 

These changes start with the officials — the people who have a bigger say and influence over the actions of human beings. Laws can be implemented, funding can be raised, and most importantly, awareness can be spread. 

The earth provides us with all that living organisms require to stay alive and it’s everyone’s civic duty to preserve the earth and change their habits if they’re harming the environment. 

Let us consider a more ethical and moral standpoint, specifically, the precautionary principle.

This principle concerns the decisions one makes regarding the environment. It focuses on how one can take preventative action to avoid negative consequences to the earth and what sort of evidence there is to prove these actions are harmful. It also provides information and suggestions to avoid worsening these effects by providing alternatives and encourages humanity’s participation in making changes.

One of the core principles is character, which can be shaped and molded through laws and the technology required. Character plays an important role in evaluating the ethical dilemmas of a situation because it addresses what actions can help us become our best selves. Actions such as recycling, using renewable energy, reducing food and water waste, investing in energy-efficient appliances, driving eco-friendly vehicles, reducing carbon usage and being weary of pollutants and harmful emissions. Participating in these activities help to improve character which ultimately helps us think and act more ethically. 

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the extraction of excess carbon from the atmosphere will preserve life and our planet. Making cutbacks on our resources and implementing newer, more natural and safe practices will help the world both economically and environmentally and will save millions of lives. Perhaps the first step to initiate change is to provide environmental conservation companies — such as Carbon Engineering and Climeworks — with substantial funding. 

These companies have been designing and making new machinery to remove carbon from the air. However, this requires proper funding to provide the best technology to complete that task on a larger scale and save our planet, according to The New York Times. Another way we can initiate change is by rewarding the use of eco-friendly living and planting more forests, which will remove a great amount of carbon from the atmosphere. 

Given the current pandemic, funding for resources won’t be easily accessible and, unfortunately, climate change isn’t the most pressing issue these days. However, the pandemic has forced many people to remain quarantined while working virtually from home. Public transportation has either been unavailable or avoided by people who are fearful of contracting COVID-19, according to the International Growth Centre. That fact alone has eased some of the excessive discharge of gas, but daily operations are returning to normal, so it hasn’t been a long enough time for it to have made a significant impact. 

Small acts of conservancy such as recycling, planting new trees and flowers, picking up litter and avoiding gas-powered transportation are all ways in which people can be mindful and respectful of the planet. The most important course of action to take is to spread the awareness and remind everyone that the earth isn’t invincible to the harsh conditions it endures. 

Madison Roach is a senior WRTC major. Contact Madison at roachma@dukes.jmu.edu.