Environmental Policy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” native Americans once sang as tribute to the preservation of our home. Pollution, resource depletion and apathy toward protecting the environment have led to the destruction of this creed. The selfishness of Americans, in particular, will consume our children’s future if action is not taken. With legislation, volunteering and individual efforts, we can improve the condition of our earth.

The main problem with environmental preservation is the apathy and disregard of individuals. At the top of our society are corporate executives whose desire for saving a few dollars - greed, basically - is greater than saving the environment. In addition, the waste produced by the average American is astronomical. Through simple practices including recycling and energy conservation through carpooling, for example, a lot of environmental damage could be avoided.

Increasing gasoline prices have highlighted the amount of fuel we use. Only now that we have to pay more for gas do we even think about conserving it, and our planet suffers because we don’t bother to act. We believe that someone else will be there to clean up our mess, or that the problem will go away if we ignore it.

Volunteering is the next step to a cleaner environment. Currently, community service programs are a major factor in local improvements. However, as far as teens’ participation, environmental projects are not often done without external motivation. Usually, volunteering is a result of the increasing demand from colleges and the National Honor Society for more active students. Simply put, kids volunteer because they need the hours to get into college. Unfortunately, community service isn’t a motivation in itself. But this new need to volunteer has helped, nevertheless. And through this, I reach my final point: legislation.

Government policy is the only catalyst for change regarding large-scale pollution and resource consumption. Without legislation including the Clean Air and Water Acts, our environment would ultimately suffer with production waste. In the 1970s, our government was very successful in moving to preserve the environment. Mandates like the Energy Conservation Policy Act lessened the amount of damaging emissions a given fleet of automobiles could produce. This law, however, expired long ago and the grand results it promised are gone.

There are two barriers preventing us from tightening the noose around factory pollution. First, our representatives and congressmen have ties to many of these corporations and by restricting them, they personally lose money. Second, in a capitalistic nation, it is required that our economy continues to grow. If we do, there is no way that we could ever balance our use of natural resources. In our current situation, there is no way we can prevent resource depletion without changing our economic tactics.

It is of critical importance that we as Americans stand up and take some responsibility for the preservation of our planet. The resolution to make a difference and a bit of hard work would make a world of difference in the land of our sons and daughters.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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