By Georgia Laganiere, staff writer
On Earth Day it is even more evident that our world faces extreme climate challenges. This is the day we should celebrate the Earth and start taking steps towards sustainability, and yet this country–and the world–are taking steps backward. Right now it is even more obvious that the United States government is very slow at getting preventative measures in place. This makes it even more important that we make strides towards combating climate change. It is essential that climate change is fully acknowledged and that we combat it through global and personal sustainability.
Since the 1950s, global emissions have quadrupled in comparison to the years prior according to the Earth Policy Institute. To quote their article on carbon emissions, Eco-Economy Indicator, “Three-fourths of global carbon emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels, namely coal, oil and natural gas. The rest come largely from deforestation.” These carbon emissions are released by cars, factories and carbon-based energy sources such as coal and oil. The overall global carbon emissions have risen 13 percent since 1990, according to the same source.
However, since 1990, China’s emissions have increased by 47 percent, accounting for almost half of the global emissions in 2003. China may have accounted for a big portion of the world’s emissions, but the US also contributed 15 percent of emissions in 2014, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Though it was not as large as China’s 30 percent in the same year, it is still a substantial and harmful amount. In 2019, however, we saw a decline in US and UK carbon emissions, but a rise in nearly everyone else’s according to the International Energy Agency, which is a global organization committed to clean energy sources for all. These emissions cause global warming by trapping the sun’s heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, thus causing climate change.
It is important to know the difference between climate and temperature. Temperature is the degree or intensity of heat in a specific area at a specific time, whereas climate is the overall average of temperatures of a specific area. one argument against climate change is that there are cold and snowy days, which couldn’t happen if global warming were real. However, it is essential to look at the climate, which has risen by two degrees in the last century, according to NASA. Even though two degrees seems miniscule, it can mean a day-to-day difference in temperature that can cause many animals stress as it disrupts their habitats.
Sustainability can be defined as the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. On a global scale, this can be achieved by mass oil and coal boycotting. By switching to clean energy, such as wind, water and nuclear power, worldwide we can achieve lower numbers of emissions. The way we can get this change to happen in the U.S. is by reaching out to senators and our representatives in the House to get bills to a place where we can enact change.
From there, we can vote or have our parents vote for these bills to pass. We can also use social media to advocate for the importance of knowledge on climate change.
Individually, we can reduce our carbon footprint by either driving a fuel-efficient car or simply walking instead of driving more often. Along with that thought, you can take public transport or carpool. You can also switch to solar energy for your house to reduce carbon emissions.
One overlooked way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat low on the food chain. This means eating fruits, vegetables, grains and beans because meat and dairy production is responsible for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gasses worldwide. Buying these products locally and in bulk can also lower emissions by shortening the distance the food travels and how many times you have to order the same food product.
Fast fashion is cheap clothing items that are mass produced in third world country factories. This production emits lots of carbon into the atmosphere and this industry has also committed human rights violations for not paying workers living wages. Buying clothes from stores that make their clothes in a clean fashion–or better yet, at a thrift store–will also help lower carbon emissions. Some sustainable clothing stores are Levi’s, H&M’s sustainable line called Conscious, Reformation, Ralph Lauren and many others that can be found by doing a simple Google search. In this area, there are good thrift stores for cheaper and more sensible options such as Crossing the Jordan, Plato’s Closet and Republic of Thrift. Sustainability is realistic if we can globally and personally enact change in our way of life.
Today, make sure that even in quarantine you are reducing your global footprint. Rethink that online purchase from that cheap store. Turn the lights off when you exit a room. Try going vegetarian for a week. Write to your state senator about your concerns for the environment. All four of these options are extremely realistic and necessary if we want to enact change in our environment.