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We must take collective action to fight environmental destruction

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Elizabeth Saubestre, Staff Writer

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I love the outdoors. I always have, and I always will.

Growing up, I was outside whenever possible. I spent countless hours playing in the snow, reading in the sun, and swimming in algae-filled lakes. The first time I really felt that I belonged at my high school was during a school-wide snowball fight, and I still remember how cold and happy I was. Being outside is synonymous with being happy.

That’s only part of the reason that it saddens me and scares me that our environment is being destroyed around us, and we don’t have much power to change things.

It’s hard to watch, especially knowing that I am one person, and it’s going to take more than one person to fix things. There have been so many times that I’ve felt hopeless, and yet, I truly believe it is better to know what is going on. Collective voices and actions are more powerful than the individual, and we will miss out on that power if we constantly think that it’s somebody else’s problem, something for someone else to think about.

For example, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that .5ºC could make all of the difference in the future of our planet, I want to pay attention, I want to see what it will take to avoid more devastation.

In October, the IPCC released a report stating that there is a large difference between a 1.5ºC (2.7ºF) average global temperature increase as opposed to a 2ºC (3.6ºF) increase, and that we have 12 years to change our society to lessen the damage of the drastic changes.

That small, extra .5ºC would result in a lack of drinkable water, half as many fish populations worldwide, and the destruction of 99 percent of coral reefs in the world. So many lives would be destroyed, so many more people would have to go hungry or thirsty, and this comes at a time where world hunger is already an extreme issue.

That’s hard to hear, and even harder to process, especially considering 71 percent of global emissions come from 100 companies. It seems like individual impacts don’t matter, which is why we need to take collective actions. We need to stop the impact of those who are creating such large carbon emissions, which will only happen if we band together.

A lot of discussion surrounding climate change and global warming occurs around individual differences we can make. Questions of the power of consumers and boycotting brands always arise, but it’s hard to believe that our choices can truly make a difference when looking at data like that.

With all this said, I don’t think that we should stop fighting. Maybe I’m overly optimistic or maybe I’m foolish, but I believe that change is possible. We have to hold others accountable. We can’t do this if we have the wool pulled over our eyes.

I want future generations to be able to share the experiences that I have had. I want everyone to be able to swim in lakes and have snowball fights, and that’s not going to happen if we stay silent as others kill the planet.

As an individual, there are several things that you can do to lessen your carbon footprint. Eat organic, avoid meat and dairy and try to carpool, bike or walk.

As a collective whole, we can protest, we can boycott companies (and actually have them notice), we can petition, we can do all of the same things we can do as individuals but have a very wide-scale impact. Nothing will get done if we don’t do it together.

Stay informed, read the news, listen to scientists. Vote. Tomorrow is the midterm election, and please, vote. If you didn’t register for this election, register for the next one. You can register online. You don’t even have to leave your house.

It’s in our best interest to pay attention to what corporations are doing, and it’s in our best interest to pay attention to what officials are saying. We cannot simply leave this problem for the next generations.

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1 Comment

One Response to “We must take collective action to fight environmental destruction”

  1. Elizabeth Singson on November 13th, 2018 4:25 pm

    “As an individual, there are several things that you can do to lessen your carbon footprint. Eat organic, avoid meat and dairy and try to carpool, bike or walk.” Oh give me a break!! Even if EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE USA did all of that it wouldn’t make a DENT in the emissions. Over 90% of those 100 top companies are polluting OUTSIDE the USA! China (where your iPhone comes from), India (where your tech support comes from) and most other third world countries. Even the US listed companies like Exxon/Mobil pollute more OUTSIDE the USA than they do inside!

    So, tell me, when is the next protest outside the Chinese Embassy? The one for India? How about protesting outside of all the others? NONE of them have ANY environmental controls like we do.

    Also, stop buying ANYTHING that says Made in China. Not only do they pollute when making products, they also pollute driving them to the docks on trucks that are unregulated and shipping them here on ships that are largely unregulated. Same goes for Mexico.

    Stop using ANYTHING that has plastic!! Forget about straws, think cars (way to much plastic in them), plastic plates, iPhones, computers with plastic keyboards and mice, televisions, remote controls of any type and the list goes on.

    Start looking round you as YOU (the author) touches things. How many are plastic or have plastic parts in them? STOP USING THAT and find an ‘organic’ replacement instead. You don’t need that calculator, get an abacus made of wood – it never runs out of batteries and can be used and handed down for centuries – and they aren’t really that hard to use!!

    So, if you find that YOU (the author) touch/use/own more than 20 items made with plastic (which is a PETROLEUM based product) then you are a hypocrite. If you don’t grow all your own food or buy anything in a box, then don’t tell me what I should be eating.

    In fact, eating food you BOUGHT that’s organic produces almost TWICE the greenhouse gasses! Why? Because it needs more hand weeding (we exhale CO2, remember), it uses compost and manure instead of chemical fertilizers – these are heavier and bulkier and therefore use more fuel to ship, causing more CO2), they also don’t last as long, so there’s more waste (oh, and I wonder what rotting foods in those compost piles emit? Oh yeah, that’s right CO2!! Same with manure.

    Oh, and because it rots so much faster in the stores, they have to order more frequently, which means MORE trucks driving around as well.

    Oh, and remember, those protest signs and petitions? Yeah, they are made from precious trees that are cut down, ground up and turned into paper a process that makes HUGE amounts of CO2 at each step – from cutting them, trimming them, putting them on logging trucks, driving to the sawmills, milling them taking the sawdust/shavings to another place to then be ‘cooked’ into paste and then run through systems to turn them into actual paper, then drying that paper out (you don’t think they do that in the SUN do you?) and then packaging it up and shipping it to the stores (well, warehouses first) so that you can DRIVE over there to pick it up and take it home!

    Of course we could get rid of ALL of those industries. Coal, oil, paper, food growers, etc. and things would be much better CO2 wise, but then about a BILLION people would die!! And, guess what… that causes greenhouse gasses too… oh well…

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We must take collective action to fight environmental destruction