Let’s talk about something becoming more crucial each day. Something that affects our entire world: Earth. As our fast-paced world evolves to become even faster and the hustle and bustle of human life distracts us, it is quite easy to forget about the harmful ways in which we treat our planet on a daily basis. Earth Day on April 22nd this year helped create a platform for environmentalists to spread their message, but are people really listening?
2017 has ushered in many significant changes, including our new and controversial President Trump. Celebrating his 100th day in office on April 29th, Trump jumped right into his new role, whether the nation liked it or not. His many sudden changes include a threat to cut back funding on the EPA, a common abbreviation for the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the New York Times, the new budget created by the Trump Administration “seeks to shrink spending by 31 percent, to $5.7 billion from $8.1 billion, and to eliminate a quarter of the agency’s 15,000 jobs” (Tabuchi). You only have to take a quick trip to the EPA’s website to understand how fundamentally important they are to our nation. In simple terms, the EPA’s mission “is to protect human health and the environment” (“Our Mission and What We Do”). Take a look around the United States of America at some point, and you may notice how lucky we are. Our streets are clean for the most part, the air is fresh, and many people have access to fresh water. All of these things fall under the EPA’s efforts to ensure that the nation is healthy and environmentally safe, but there is still a myriad of work to be done. Reducing the budget during such critical times can backfire on the United States, and will counteract efforts in achieving a completely sustainable nation.
In addition to significant budget cuts, Trump proceeded to withdraw the United States of America from the Paris Climate Accord on June 1st, which was joined under the Obama Administration, on the grounds that “[The American people] want fair treatment. We don't want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore" (Liptak). In short, the Paris Climate Accord is “a landmark accord reached in 2015 between 195 countries that seeks to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change by curbing global greenhouse gas emissions” (Plumer). To work most efficiently, it requires the participation of many nations to galvanize and inspire other nations into taking more action to reduce greenhouse emissions within their own nations. According to CBS News,
“Last year, all the world's nations combined pumped nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, according to new international calculations on global emissions published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. That's about a billion tons more than the previous year”. (“Carbon dioxide emissions rise to 2.4 million pounds per second”)
Practices used now, in relation to the environment, do not provide a bright view into the future for citizens of the world. This decision to leave, on the United States’ behalf, possesses the potential to be detrimental to our Earth and diplomatic relations.
You may be wondering why all these political decisions are so important to the average American citizen. For many, it's not hard to see our Earth is in trouble. In reference to the state of the Earth right now, NASA explains:
“When global warming has happened at various times in the past two million years, it has taken the planet about 5,000 years to warm 5 degrees. The predicted rate of warming for the next century is at least 20 times faster. This rate of change is extremely unusual.” (“How is Today’s Warming Different from the Past?”)
May it be that you are a believer or non-believer of climate change, all can agree that the way in which we treat Earth at this very moment is horrific and the only way to reverse this is with nation and world wide movements that can unify people under one cause. Now and the next few years is the time to take real action into reversing the damage we have already done to the environment. It is not too late, but in merely decades, and it will be .
So how hard is it to become truly “green” and help on an individual level? You may must look no farther than Lauren Singer, a self acclaimed environmentalist who is doing more for the Earth at 25 then most people do in their entire life. When studying Environmental Science at New York University, Singer made the crucial decision to take her knowledge from the classroom and make it applicable to everyday life. With this simple aspiration, her blog “Trash is For Tossers” and her brand “The Simply Co.” were born. The goal: to encourage people to produce little to no waste each day, whether it be groceries or beauty products. Her own legacy can be summed up in a single mason jar that holds all the waste she has produced in 4 years. Singer’s story may seem intimidating but living a sustainable lifestyle is not that hard in practice. In reference to her methods of sustainability, Singer claims that she is “incredibly lazy -- [she] would never live a zero waste lifestyle if it meant spending extra time doing things to live this lifestyle. Contrary to what people think or might assume it's actually very easy” (East). Incentive and motivation, and maybe a mason jar, is all you need to make a change.
Not up for the challenge? Understandably, joining the Zero Waste Movement may not be your style, but you should seek out other methods in which you can pay your dues to Mother Nature. The easiest of all methods is to donate to environmental organizations that seek to help out, such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) or the Earth System Governance Project (ESGP). If you are going to support it, then maybe try being environmentally aware with small steps, by recycling and revising your commute to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Protest any laws or actions created by the government that counteract the age of environmental awareness, and that you do not agree with! Whether it be some of the ones listed above or others that speak to you, the United States of America encourages and ensures that your voice be heard. Utilize the first amendment right to your benefit and incite real change.
You probably have heard of these things before, but now it's time to make a change! Our generation may be the one to save Earth and its people. I ask you to look at your own life and see what you can change. It doesn't have to be big, but it doesn't have to be small either.
It’s no secret that our Earth is in danger, and it’s also no secret that it may be our fault. With a threat of possible cuts to the EPA and ignorance permeating throughout society, helping the environment may seem like an impossible feat. Why should you feel the need to take action? Because it’s our home and therefore, our responsibility to take care of it.