The only #2009vs2019 photos we should care about — people are using the ’10-year challenge’ as a stark warning about what’s happening to our planet
Category : entrepreneur
- People’s social-media feeds have been filled with posts that juxtapose a photo of a person in 2009 and one of them in 2019. Earlier this year, this was termed the “10-year challenge.”
- Environmental activists have used the trend to draw attention to how much Earth has changed in the past 10 years, posting side-by-side images of our planet’s recent transformation.
- This year was the fourth-warmest year on record, last year was the hottest ever for the world’s oceans (which are also warming faster than we thought), and recent research revealed that Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets are melting at unprecedented rates.
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As this decade comes to a close, social media users are flocking to Instagram and Facebook to post revealing side-by-side photographs and memes of their current and younger selves, labeled with the tag #2009vs2019. Earlier this year, a similar trend had emerged under the label the “10-year-challenge,” in which people juxtaposed pictures of themselves from 2009 and 2019.
Some environmentalists seized on the opportunity to highlight Earth’s own “10-year challenge.”
Not only did 2018 turn out to be the oceans’ warmest year on record, but scientists realized that oceans are also heating up 40% faster than they’d previously thought. What’s more, recent research found that the Greenland ice sheet is thawing nearly six times as fast as it did in the 1980s and Antarctica is on the threshold of an irreversible melt.
Sites like Reddit and Instagram exploded with posts calling for greater public awareness about the effects of climate change. While the original challenge is meant to provide a visual representation of the way someone has matured or changed, the climate-change versions convey a more serious message: This is the 10-year challenge we need to focus on.
—The SDG Academy (@SDG_Academy) January 14, 2019
Many of the 10-year comparison photos show melting glaciers, one of the most visually dramatic effects of a warming planet.
Melting glaciers mean the North Pole and the South Pole are slowly getting makeovers (and not the good kind). In a worst-case scenario, called a “pulse,” warmer water could cause the glaciers holding back Antarctica’s and Greenland’s ice sheets to collapse. That would send massive quantities of ice into the oceans, potentially leading to rapid sea-level rise around the world.
If a pulse were to happen, the sea level in South Florida could increase by 10 to 30 feet by 2100. But because water, like most things, expands when it warms, sea-level rise is inevitable even if the ice sheets don’t melt — the oceans absorb 93% of the extra heat that greenhouse gases trap in the atmosphere.
It’s one thing to talk about these threats in the abstract. But it’s a different ball game when we see visual evidence.