Mass Opinion Matters: The world is ending (sort of)


Wildflower Grows Rapidly In California Lake County / Bjorgialt / Own work / CC BY-SA 4.0

A 2017 wildfire approaches a house in Northern California.

Fires are burning down the Amazon rainforests and ravaging the Australian outback, glaciers are melting, and the sea level is rising. It feels as if the world is ending.

When I was 12, Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and its surrounding areas. At the time, that was the worst natural disaster I had experienced, and I genuinely thought the world would meet its end. The news was talking nonstop about Hurricane Harvey, and it was the forefront of prayers in churches and homes across the country.

The next year, wildfires consumed California. This time, the natural disaster was much closer to me, maybe about an hour away. I again thought that the world was going to end, but no one seemed to care as much as I thought they would. Of course, people were concerned and sent “thoughts and prayers” to the firefighters and the Northern Californian residents.

Still, most people were acting as if these fires were simply a minor inconvenience. Some would disregard the visible smoke in the air, and my middle school even planned to go through with our eighth grade overnight trip to Occidental, California. Seeing as Occidental was just a few miles from the blazing fires, my parents and I questioned whether it would even be safe to go. Several parents complained to the school, yet they only canceled after the facility we planned to stay at called my school and told us not to come.

The next week, my classmates were furious that they were “cheated” out of their trip. While I, too, was upset that our highly anticipated trip got postponed, I also understood that the issue was more significant than just me and the inconveniences that these natural disasters caused.

A year later, the fires returned and killed 97 civilians and six firefighters. That year, schools closed for a day, and the people I knew seemed to be slightly more concerned, both because of the fatalities and the thick smoke in the air.

And this year, the wildfires struck again, but due to the experiences from the previous years, they were far less destructive. People were much quicker to flee from their homes, and firefighters were able to put out the fires much more efficiently, so this year’s wildfires did not make the news headlines as they had in previous years.

This all brought up a concerning thought. Some seem to only care about a threat to humanity when they are forced to.

So, maybe I should not say that the world is ending, but it is in a very fragile state. Many can and will make an effort to solve a global problem when they are faced with it. However, we could tip the world either way.

It could be pushed further to the point of no return in terms of global warming and hesitance to act on natural disasters, or it could become a stable planet from mass support and effort. It’s indeed easier said than done, but collective opinion plays a substantial role in the fate of the Earth.

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