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Making Sustainability Sustainable

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Are Americans “going green” to save our planet, or are they just following a trend? During the past decade, going green has been a popular idea, but will it become a real movement with long term results? Is a true green movement as crazy a notion to our generation as putting a man on the moon was 40 years ago?
Wearing a go green T- shirt and carrying a canvas bag is trendy, but I wonder if these same Americans really turn off lights when they leave a room, turn off water when brushing their teeth, take short showers instead of baths, carpool or bike to work and recycle daily. I am worried that many Americans do not really care about the environment on a personal level -- especially if it’s inconvenient or no one is looking.
In my fifth grade Energy Club meetings, I understood for the first time how American consumption and habits can ruin our land, sea and air. Since then, I have tried to be aware of my daily impact on my surroundings. I am afraid that many Americans continue to consume and waste because they feel their individual actions do not have an outward rippling effect or make a real difference to the planet.
I am concerned that going green is a trend that may fade unless Americans experience a cultural transformation. These changes need to become second nature not just with some, but with all Americans. To do this, I think we need to look at our nation’s history to learn how American generations before ours have made the transition from an idea to a genuine movement.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to Congress challenging Americans to work hard to achieve something that back then seemed impossible. Kennedy proclaimed “… this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” He concluded his famous speech by demanding “every scientist, every technician, contractor and civil servant involved gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in this exciting adventure of space.” JFK’s leadership and vision created great change in America and in 1969 Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
Now our American generation needs to reach for the stars in order to save our earth. I want President Obama to give the same passionate speech JFK gave to Congress but this time about the environment. Our country needs to make going green an everyday reality before the next “decade is out.” Obama’s leadership on this issue can help to undo the Bush Administration’s damage to our country’s reputation on the global stage. I believe Americans need to be leaders and pioneers in the race to save our environment.
I would like President Obama to ask every scientist to find a green fuel that can replace oil once and for all, ask every contractor to reduce energy consumption in buildings and cars, ask every civil servant to pass enforceable laws to limit emissions and curb global warming, ask every American to buy green bonds to invest in the future of the US, and ask every school to create green energy clubs to educate children. These broad changes may inspire the average American to make small every day changes in their life, like recycling and conserving energy.
Americans will always be trendsetters, but I believe now is the time for our generation to be leaders “with the full speed of freedom, in this exciting adventure” and to take a “giant leap for mankind” and our planet.



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