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Dear Kids and My Future Self,

Right now, I am writing this letter at a small coffee shop called the “Stone Spiral”, across the street from Ryan Hummert park; which in 2050 you guys may know as an empty mass of dirt where grass cannot grow because of people before you and what they did to our planet. Right now in St. Louis, we have just experienced the hottest February on record. Trees and flowers are blooming in February and not April. People have put away their winter coats and pulled out shorts to wear.  Why you ask?

One of the largest contributors to this problem is the greenhouse gas effect. The greenhouse gas effect is when gases like carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere and act like an infrared blanket, stopping the gases from reaching outer space. Which then causes the rapid heating of our Earth. In the last century, (17 years) the Earth’s average temperature has climbed 0.7 degrees. 10 times the heating of the ice age. The one major greenhouse gas contributor is the emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and other natural gases. It’s been noted and studied that storms are more likely to occur over the Atlantic Ocean on weekends. It is believed that this is the result of carbon dioxide pollution particles trapped in our atmosphere because of east coast weekday rush hour traffic. Likewise, so far this century, the west coast is experiencing more violent weather because the jet stream is carrying pollution particles from China which has been experiencing an economic boom and as a result unheard of increases in air pollution for the last 17 years. It’s really important to reduce this pollution and to slow down global warming. For some this comes at a cost. Our previous president, Obama, began closing down coal mines and looking for alternative energy to use. I learned this firsthand when I volunteered in the coal town of McDowell County, West Virginia. The poverty there is devastating because all these families only know how to work in coal mines. But once again, a company’s greed has put what was once one of the top 10 populated areas in the United States to one of the poorest. I hope that your generation learns the balance between respecting our earth and taking care of all people.

Another large factor of climate change is deforestation.The Amazon Forests while far away from St. Louis, clean our air and act as a natural filter that removes carbon dioxide energy from the atmosphere. This helps to protect the water cycle. About 18 million acres of forest is lost every year and this has contributed to droughts throughout the world. These forests produce vital oxygen and provide habitats for natural wildlife. The rainforests are a source of food and medicine too. When these forests are cut down, less oxygen is being produced, and less of our carbon dioxide is being filtered. Also, a whopping 1.6 billion people rely on the benefits of the forest to survive. Therefore, the destruction of the forest plays a key role in climate change. I wonder if you will know the acronym TREES. It stands for teach, restore, encourage, establish, and support. It’s meant to help people begin saving rainforests and other ecosystems around the world. My dad has an entire garden of native plants to Missouri. He is trying to preserve our area’s natural resources and to protect the wildlife, like bees in St. Louis.

Lastly, sunspots are another cause of global warming. Sunspots are storms on the sun’s surface, and scientists believe that the number of spots on the sun cycles over time and reaches its maximum every ten years. But some studies indicate that sunspot activity has doubled in the last century, and the sun now shines brighter, showing that it is destroying the ozone. This causes bigger temperature differences between the warm tropics and cold polar areas on earth and makes the atmosphere unstable which upsets the jet streams and leads to more severe weather in the “middle” part of the world, like the United States.

So if there is one thing that I wish that you kids may someday do, would be to watch your carbon footprint whenever you travel. Hopefully when my letter is read, people will be listening and doing all that they can do to prevent global warming and to repair the damage it’s caused. But if not, then it is up to you the reader of this letter, to start to spread the word and to begin making changes – even small ones like my family does will make a difference. Right now, there are lots of ways that my family and I work to reduce our carbon footprints. We walk and ride bikes to the pool and school. My brother drives a scooter instead of a car. My mom hangs out the laundry to dry. We recycle and compost. We have switched to energy saving LED light bulbs and use rechargeable batteries. We try not to use the air conditioning in summer. My parents put in energy saving windows, hot water heater, furnace, and other appliances. We garden and use dead, decomposed leaves for mulch. Instead of plastic bags, we use cloth bags at the store. Soon my house will need a new roof and solar panels will be a part of it. All really little things working together to make a big change and save the planet.

Sincerely,

Ethan S.

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