Growing up, I used to spend my winters in Chicago sledding, building snowmen, making snow angels, and having snowball fights in the park near my house. A fresh coat of snow meant that my neighbors and I would all come out to play, bundled up with hats, gloves, and bulky coats, leaving lopsided trails of footprints behind us as we explored what might be adequately described as a “winter wonderland”.
As a summer intern for the EPA, I still maintain a passion for snow forts and snowball fights, and I have developed a greater appreciation for activities such as skiing and ice skating (which had never been much of an interest to my younger self due to an extraordinary lack of coordination). Unfortunately, as I’ve grown up, I’ve had less time to enjoy these recreational activities, not just because my schedule has gotten busier, but because snow doesn’t fall as often as it did 15 years ago. Ice cover isn’t as thick, and even when a snowfall does occur, the snow just doesn’t last as long. With only a few short weeks for winter break, I’m disappointed when my chances to enjoy the snow are limited.
Winters are getting warmer due to the earth’s changing climate. Temperatures are increasing, and precipitation will get more inconsistent—either too much or too little. Ice on lakes will be thinner, making them unsafe to use for things like skating and ice fishing. Humans have to take some of the blame for this phenomenon. Pollution from factories, cars, and homes traps heat inside the atmosphere, which leads to climate change. There are plenty of things that people, and especially teens, can do to address climate change. The Marian Koshland Science Museum, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) offer ways for teens to get involved in combating climate change. NWF even has a downloadable action guide with project ideas.
I enjoy warm weather as much as the next person-my summer days are full of soccer, Frisbee, and swimming. However, I will still do what I can and encourage others to combat climate change. Fortunately, this is not a problem that can only be addressed by business and government. Anybody, at any age, can contribute. It is my personal belief that everybody should do their part to slow climate change. The problem requires immediate action, and as today’s teens graduate, go to college, and enter the “real world”, we will be a very important part of the solution. We owe it ourselves, to the world, and to the thousands of children that enjoy frolicking in freshly fallen snow.
About the Author: Carmel Loch is an intern for the Air and Radiation Division working on Climate Change. She will be a junior at the University of Chicago.