The sound of the monthly tornado alarm tests is a childhood staple in my household. Every first Tuesday of the month, tornado alarms are turned on at around 10:00 in my Chicago suburb as if by clockwork. The alarm fades in and out as it is turned on to be proactive about the inevitable. Although I used to associate tornadoes with sparkly red heels that would whisk you away like Dorothy was in Kansas, the alarm has now become a reminder that we are one gust of wind away from losing our home, Earth. With the increasing number of tornadoes seen in the Midwest of the United States, I have begun to associate the blaring alarm with the blinding uncertainty that humanity faces due to climate change.
The first time I recall hearing the alarm was in the first year of elementary school. We had just had a severe tornado warning that prior weekend, and I remember being a frightened child being led down to the basement. It had been a stormy Friday and an even worse Saturday that ended with a red screen warning on the TV. When, like clockwork, the testing alarms started going off around town at 10:00 the following Tuesday while I was learning how to write my alphabet in cursive, I froze in fear that Saturday night was about to repeat itself. Our teacher explained the aforementioned, saying that it was simply a test to make sure that in the face of a real emergency, they would work and we would all be safe. I am thankful they work because the amount of time I have heard the sound in the last few years has exponentially increased.
According to climate change experts at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the world is experiencing an increase in droughts and extreme heat—clear signs of global warming. We, as a society, observe these changes unfazed on our daily news channels. We see the headlines, sigh, and simply continue on reading our morning news as if nothing ever happened. This past summer, many places throughout Europe were ablaze due to unprecedented weather. Italy, France, and Spain are a few examples. Last month, Pakistan and Bangladesh suffered from floods that affected their infrastructure, and more wildfires continue to occur in California.
Our generation has grown up in times where we have the ability to communicate and be aware almost instantaneously of disasters happening half the world away from us. Yet, here we are. The youth sees what should be their patrimony burning in flames. We as a generation realize that change is needed, but not in ten years. The action needs to happen now.
Now it will. In the USA, the biannual midterms elections for Congress are underway, and many seats will be crucial in not only acknowledging the imminent disaster but also acting accordingly. Two examples are incumbent Congressmen Sean Casten (IL-6) and Maxwell Frost (FL-10). As we become a more polarized society in the world, it is important to put certain differing ideas aside for the common good—our world’s survival. We must rally to save Earth in the remaining years left before it is too late. We must invest in green energy, upcycling, and ethical shopping. We need to vote for leaders that will guide our respective countries into a greener future.
Many people claim to care about the environment, but it is necessary to prove that through continuous action toward a more sustainable lifestyle. As a world superpower, the USA must set an example for other countries to follow; this starts with adopting policies that will benefit the environment and humanity. The Green New Deal, the Thrive Act, and the individual activism of everyone are necessary instruments for building tomorrow. Whether it be calling your local politician to ask about current policies to hold corporations accountable for the energy they put out that harms the ecosystem or the help given to those communities affected by the signs of climate change, it starts within oneself to make a difference. The alarms of increasing humanitarian crises caused by climate change should startle us the same way they startled me at eight years old.
At seventeen years old, my community gathered in the neighboring town, a five-minute drive away, to pick up parts of houses and fallen trees. A tornado had caused mayhem in our Woodridge community, which caused many more issues that followed; however, the members of the community gathered together hand-in-hand to repair. The same must be done on a worldwide level, and that needs to happen now before it is too late.
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