There is no doubt that today's society faces a myriad of issues. Ranging from the divisive political state, the fear of terrorism, the controversy of immigration, and so on, the world as a whole has a lot on its plate. However, I believe that one of the most encompassing and far-reaching issues facing our society is the issue of climate change. Not only do we all play a part in the impending crisis, but we will also all be effected by the outcomes. Further, without a healthy and sound earth, there can be no productive and peaceful society. So in order to address multiple other issues in the world, we must first focus on the issue that is in the foreground: climate change.
To get a quick background, it is essential to understand that yes, the earth naturally goes through warm and cool cycles. However, in recent years, there has been an accumulation of carbon in our atmosphere that is completely unprecedented in human history. This is correlated with increased use of fossil fuels, that emit gases such as carbon dioxide or methane that help to trap heat inside the atmosphere. The effects of this "greenhouse effect" are detrimental, such as rapidly melting sea ice, rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, and disappearing species.
The idea of climate change itself is a very daunting subject. When we are presented with a problem so vast and seemingly unstoppable, it is easy to back away in fear and just hope that things will fix themselves. However, this rarely solves problems effectively. So, we must brace ourselves as we prepare for the fight against deforestation, pollution, and so forth. Of course, it being such a large problem, climate change comes with a long list of solutions. On the individual level, there is much that we can do.As initially stated, climate change has far reaches, having causes rooted in the clothing we wear, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the water we drink, and so forth. Therefore, there are many ways in which we can lessen our impact on this earth.
We can start by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions in ways such as opting to purchase fuel efficient or electric cars or transitioning to solar panels for our homes. We can carpool to school, or ride bikes. Beyond these seemingly obvious ways to reduce our carbon footprint are many other ways in which we can make a difference. For instance, you can look to buy locally produced food and other goods. This has an enormous impact, because if you buy local goods, this means that they did not have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to reach you, using greenhouse gas-powered trucks, airplanes, or boats. Further, buying local is also very good for the community's economy, and usually healthier for you!
Another way we can help to save the earth is through using less water. Only a small percentage of the earth's water is able to be drank, so it is important that we do not waste it. Taking shorter showers, flushing the toilet less often, and other habits can make a small yet meaningful difference.
Perhaps one of the most popular ways to combat climate change is recycling. It's relatively simple, so you might think it's a no-brainer for people to quickly sort through their own trash to better the earth. However, millions of Americans still neglect to do this simply act. Recycling preserves our finite resources, as well as saves our trash from entering fragile ecosystems, such as plastic bottles floating around in the Pacific Ocean garbage patch, releasing harmful chemicals into the water and ending up in the stomachs of marine life.
Aside from cutting back on fossil fuels, water usage, and amount of waste produced, we must also be proactive. We can protest, rally, and write to our senators about things that matter to us, such as supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. We can donate money to organizations such as WWF. The possibilities are endless, but not much will get done if we don't inspire others to join us in the crusade.
And going even further, the generations that are in school and college now will be responsible for creating large-scale solutions, through governments and nonprofit organizations. We must learn to see past each other's differences, whether they be language barriers, religious backgrounds, or nationalities, and come together to work towards a common interest: the goal of preserving our planet for years and years to come.
Recently, I watched a documentary about coral reefs, and there is one quote from the film that has been ringing around in my head for the past few weeks: "We do not inherit this earth from our parents, we are borrowing it from our children." I believe that this quote is extremely relevant in today's world, when we take so much from the earth, and forget that this planet is not invincible. We only have one earth, and if we want to protect it and everything that lives here, we must take important actions, both large and small.
raised in scholarship for
North Rockland High School
Class of 2017