Our Climate: 2021 into 2022

What can YOU do to help our world?

Clara Byrne

Throughout this year, events related to climate change have been in the top headlines. If most of them sound horrific, that’s because they are. Earth is in a state of crisis. The environment is suffering because of the effect humans have had on it. But that doesn’t mean that trying to help Earth is hopeless! Today, saving the planet is an issue more commonly recognized than ever before. Millions are taking action across the world, and it’s making a difference. We still have a long way to go, but it seems as though the dawn of a new green era is rising. 


To begin, it’s impossible to ignore the events that went on this year caused by climate change. Everything from flooding, tsunamis, and wild storms, to drought, extreme fires, and remarkably frigid weather. Now, some of these cases have been a regular occurrence for centuries. Certain areas experience annual weather events based on their geographical location. But throughout even the past 20 years, these have increased in frequency and magnitude. Floods raged through western Europe this summer, leaving destruction and casualties in their path. The southern United States faced a deadly polar vortex this February. On the other hand, Canada was crippled by a heatwave. Drought still grips Madagascar and surrounding areas, causing a malnutrition crisis. 


When the environment suffers, everyone suffers. Fewer trees lead to less shelter and clean oxygen. Transportation of goods makes up 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions (2019). Greenhouse gasses are good in a certain amount to regulate Earth’s temperature. But when they trap in too much heat, that’s where problems start to happen. Melting arctic ice caps cause sea levels to rise, causing coasts to erode and more deadly storms to rise. Not only that, but the ocean is our planet’s largest temperature regulator. If that starts to become too warm because of trapped heat, the effects may be irreversible. 

On the topic of the ocean, polluting it affects us directly. Pouring vats of oil, chemicals, and trash into the sea is currently killing fish and many other sea animals. It is now, more than ever, that the Earth needs our help. 


And at last, we may have hope for a cleaner future. Just in this year alone, innovation with the planet in mind has boomed. Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup, has created an ingenious mechanism to eliminate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Giant barriers help to catch and trap the plastic and debris, for it to be processed and never end up back in the ocean. All around the world, corporations, and people are switching to greener alternatives. Reusable options have surged in popularity in the last year. Similarly, biodegradable or compostable packaging has never seen a brighter day. It may seem like things like these don’t make any difference. But collectively, as a movement, it plays a critical role in saving the world. 


Just this November, plans for change on a larger scale went underway. 120 world leaders and over 20,000 delegates attended COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The last meeting like this was in Paris in 2015, and a lot has changed since then. Here are some of the agreements made at COP26 this November:

  • Leaders will pledge next year to further reduce their carbon footprint as an entire nation. 
  • More than 100 world leaders pledged to fully stop deforestation before 2030, which will make an incredible difference in the lives of every being on this planet. 
  • China and the United States are two of the world’s largest Co2 emitters on the planet. This year, the two countries agreed to cooperate in dramatically reducing their emissions. 
  • Less developed countries received the funding needed to switch to using renewable energy.  


To anyone, it certainly sounds like most of the negative effects on our planet come from large corporations, not individual citizens. And? That is completely true. Still, it doesn’t mean that people should just stop taking steps to become more eco-friendly. Even if what you do today for the planet seems insignificant, as a whole, it is more important than ever now. Here are some changes you, (yes, you!), can make in the new year. 

  • Ditch fast fashion! This includes not only physical stores like Forever 21 and Zara, but especially online stores such as Shein and Cider. Instead, work with the clothes you have, get some cute thrift store finds, or only buy clothes that you know you’ll wear often. 
  • Switch to reusable water bottles instead of plastic. Reusable water bottles are more common than ever before.
  • Eat less meat! The amount of water used to produce meat is unthinkable. Not only that, but cattle and pig farming promotes deforestation, and animal agriculture contributes 15% of greenhouse gasses worldwide. 
  • Choose Tupperware or glass containers instead of plastic bags when packing a lunch or storing food.
  • Leave behind using plastic grocery bags in 2021. Though as a teen you may not do grocery shopping on your own, start the initiative in your family to shop with reusable bags.
  • Sign petitions! You’d be surprised by how much change can come from a petition. By using an online resource such as Change.org, it’s never been easier. 


We are at a critical point for change right now. Our Earth, the only livable planet, needs our help. Let’s make 2022 a greener year for us all.