In order to understand how climate changes, it must be studied at local, regional, national, and global levels. After looking at the climate changes in each of these areas in conjunction with what I have learned about the Earth’s history for the past 4.5 billion years, I realized that what we as humans are contributing to the Earth’s climate is insignificant. Our contribution is insignificant in that the Earth will eventually recover from the forcing we have placed upon it. Carbon dioxide levels will be balanced out and will eventually return to equilibrium. What I failed to overlook earlier was that the problem revolved around the continuation of the human race as we know it, not of the Earth’s continuation. What we have started only affects us. From this perspective, global warming presents a very real problem. Just like viewing climate change on a global level, global warming is very relevant to the perspective of the viewer. By “saving” the Earth we are really only saving ourselves. Everything we do today to lower our carbon dioxide emissions and pollution output will only affect the human race. Further in the Earth’s timeline, these emissions will not matter. What we do is only for ourselves. Our actions are not for some disembodied creature that we must have intact in order to survive. We act for ourselves, so that the Earth will not change so much that we can no longer survive as a race. The Earth can and will react and change according to the imbalances we have created for it. It is we as a human collective who must be concerned. Personally, I feel more of a responsibility to the human race than to the Earth as a nonliving thing. If we can spread the notion of a responsibility toward each other rather than towards an Earth which will inevitably outlast us, will we be able to counteract the damage we have done to our future wellbeing and be able to continue to inhabit the Earth.
-Tyler Huth, Cornell University Student