Cause For Change

Envision the year 2030, just twenty years into the future. Though our minds love to imagine flying cars and happy people whose lives are made easier by robots and technology, the outlook now is bleak. Babies will be born into gas masks because the planet is suffocating from too much carbon dioxide and UV poisoning. These babies will grow up in a world in which they are not exposed to at least 36% of the species on this planet today, where the Hawaiian Islands are under fifty feet of water, and where earthquakes, hurricanes, and ice storms are everyday disasters. This is the 2030 that lays ahead of us if we do not act now to end and reverse the destruction of our planet. Though global warming, deforestation, and pollution are tearing apart the paradise that we once called Home, governments around the world, as well as civilians, continue to distract themselves with money, fancy cars, and Hollywood. Global climate change, destruction of our natural resources, and pollution of our land, oceans, and skies are pressing matters that threaten our lives and our children’s lives, but it can only be solved through the combination of government intervention and communal effort at the individual level.

As we live out our everyday lives, we fail to see the vicious cycle that supports our rabid consumerism, from destroying our resources and mowing down our planet, to thoughtlessly dumping our waste product back into this barren, earth and further perpetuating the climate change. The resources that we so desperately depend on such as oil, wool, and coal are often more valuable than the natural beauty of our planet, and extraction of these resources tears apart fragile ecosystems. Mining, deforestation, and urbanization are all examples of thoughts destruction by greedy humans. Pollution is another problem in our planet brought about by our careless waste production. Much of this excess material is pumped into rivers or oceans, or dumped in landfills. These two processes, as well as the general carelessness for the Earth that comes with them, leads a third main problem: global climate change. Though some prefer to neglect this issue as if it is not even happening, the past decade has been the hottest on record and polar ice caps are melting at an astonishing rate. This is an effect of heat trapped by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and holes in the ozone layer, letting in dangerous UV rays.

Many governments across the globe have made meager attempts to curve the effects of global warming, as well as to protect our planet; however, a lack of concern for the issue has resulted in only mild improvements and little change. At the recent climate conference in Copenhagen to discuss and improve climate conditions on Earth, leaders failed to resolve a solution and in the words of Seth Meyers, “The UN Climate summit in Copenhagen ended Friday with world leaders settling for a more modest agreement that does not set overall emissions targets or deadlines, and does not establish a legally binding treaty, and it was a waste of time and we’re all gonna die.” Though some countries offer carbon offsets or encourage a “green” lifestyle, few have taken the necessary actions, such as waste management reforms and alternative energy funds, to end the spread of global warming. In every case, the economy always seems to take priority over our only home, which we are rapidly laying waste to.

One country which has had relative success with these environmental disasters is Japan. In 20th century Japan, industrialization was huge, and industries went through resources and dumped their waste without a care. In 1990, this became a real problem when the Chisso company, which had been dumping into a fishing bay for decades, was sued for having infected thousands of people with Minamata disease, from eating fish containing too much mercury. Since then, Japan has become much more environmentally friendly and has set the world standard for waste and resource efficiency. Recycling has become a way of life in Japan, where in some districts reusable materials such as plastic, paper, and metal are sorted into 27 different bins and is a community effort. Toyota is also a towering force in Japan and worldwide, with their Prius being the most fuel efficient car in the world. The 1993 Kyoto protocol set the world standards for reducing carbon emissions and has long since been a target for developed and developing countries alike. By 2009, the United States is the only country with no intention to sign the international treaty, displaying once again the importance of money over our home planet in our modern society.

It is not longer enough to sit around and talk at meetings, such as the one in Copenhagen, and go nowhere. Our world leaders must take action to reverse this destruction before we are forced to find a new planet. First, in order to protect our Earth, the government should boost the use of recyclables to cut down on resource use and promote green building styles to protect what natural wilderness remains. In respect to pollution, governments should set limits on waste production by large corporations, and begin greener waste management processes. Finally, in an attempt to reduce and even reverse global warming, world leaders should put a limit on carbon emissions of companies and homes alike, and force them to pay carbon offsets. Also, limit our dependance on fossil fuels, we should be shifting our focus to renewable energies that are easier to come by and better for the planet. If our world leaders could get their act together and enforce a set of global guidelines, it would be possible to undo the damage that has been for so long neglected.

However, we cannot rely on the government to resolve such a large and pressing issue because each and every one of us is involved, and is also an individual movement. The ways in which we can help our planet individually are endless, because we can make a difference too. Turning off the water, turning down the heater or air conditioner, and recycling are all things that we can do every day to help solve this major climate crisis. In Australia in 2006, a small town decided to turn their lights off for one hour of just one night, and three years later it has become an annual global event called Earth hour. This even is designed to show people how just by flipping a switch, they can make a difference in the fight against global climate change.

Though all of this may seem so insignificant and so far removed from your life, by the time it is a real problem for each of us, it will be too late to fix. For all the time and energy we put into silly things like our cars and video games, we should give a little time back to our only planet that has been home to our ancestors, our generation, and hopefully our kids. The time has come to take action and right our ignorant wrongs. In the fight against global warming, pollution, and destroyed ecosystems, victory comes in gradual progress and universal effort.





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