Today is the 46th earth day, dating back to 1970, yet environmental issues are still prevalent, and threatening our planet. The hope of a cleaner future is still not a reality, and doesn’t seem to be near. With problems ranging from climate change to the pollution of our oceans and air, not only is the beauty of the planet fading, but so is life. Over half of Earth’s wildlife population has been lost over the last 40 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). An estimated 80,000 acres of tropical rain forests are cleared daily, according to Scientific American. 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history, and 2016 is on pace to be even hotter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It is up to our generation to solve this problem, and we must. The environment is not an issue to be ignored or passed over. There is no bigger threat to our way of life than climate change. Scientist predict ocean levels will rise 2.5 ft to 6.5 ft by 2100. That is enough to devastate most coastal cities, where the majority of the worlds population lives. Other studies show that if the whole Greenland ice shelf melts, the ocean levels will rise 23 ft, enough to submerge London (National Geographic). It is obvious that something has to be done about climate change.
There are people that deny climate change, but it is no longer only a theory. The research overwhelmingly proves the earth is heating due to emissions of green house gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. The consensus in the scientific community is that climate change is a real thing, and it is threatening our planet right now. Hiding from the facts is not the answer to solving this problem.
Although it does seem that finding a solution is harder than expected. This is because much of the green house emissions come from oil and coal, energy companies. Many jobs are at stake. Reversing climate change is a very delicate process. Our city, Deer Park, is run by the Shell oil company. Our families livelihood is dependent on the oil industry. So combating climate change is combating our way of life, and threatens many of our families. That, however, does not mean that we choose to ignore the fact that climate change threatens our way of life as well. We must find a compromise, that takes into account both jobs and a sustainable environment. This can take many forms, one being policy that doesn’t destroy the energy industry, but makes it evolve. What I mean by that is changing the type of energy we use. Instead of oil, we could use nuclear power, which produces far less green house gas. This way, we keep jobs, but evolve the industry. Nuclear power could completely replace oil, while keeping all of the jobs the oil industry provides, and decreasing the impact on the environment.
However prevalent, climate change is not the only issue that threatens the environment. 80 percent of the planets forest have been lost to deforestation. Agriculture accounts for 78 percent of total deforestation, while logging is responsible for only 14 percent according to the World Preservation Foundation. Most of the land cleared for agriculture is used for raising livestock or growing the food to feed the livestock. So the solution here is not found in using less paper, it is found in eating less meat. Again we find these issues hitting closer to home. We all want to save the world, until we have to change something in our lives we love to do so. In this case that thing is eating meat. Many people say why change to save the rainforest, we don’t live in or near the rainforest. We might not, but in the amazon alone 30 million people do, including 350 indigenous groups, and millions of different species. The amazon also produces 20 percent of the worlds oxygen, combating global warming. A little closer to home, the Amazon is responsible for 25 percent of western medicine. (WWF) Deforestation effects all of us. If we do nothing about it, huge unforeseen consequences will make life much more difficult.
Biodiversity is in great danger as well. The study of extinction on our planet is difficult because we are not really sure how many species there is on the planet in the first place. However there are estimates, and experts estimate that the extinction rate right now is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. It is estimated to be between .01 percent and .1 percent of all the species on the planet will go extinct each year. That might not sound like much, until it is put into perspective. The low estimate for species on the planet is 2 million. With that number, 200 to 2,000 species go extinct each year. That is the low estimate according to the WWF. This is all due to human activity. Everything from over fishing to habitat destruction contributes to this loss of diversity on the planet. Humans are destroying the planet. Some scientist even predict that human activity is going to cause a sixth extinction crisis. There have been 5 mass extinctions in the history of life on earth, and some scientist are predicting that the next is going to be caused completely by human activity. This is an extremely radical theory but a theory nonetheless, and the fact that it is even a conceivable idea shows that we need to make a change.
Yes, there have been a lot of numbers and statistics brought up about an array of issues, but the simple idea is this: Humans are destroying the planet, and something has to be done about it. So, this earth day, that is what I want you all to think about. Making a change. Let today not be about planting a single tree with your friends just to have a cute earth day activity, but let it be about the planet. This is a day that effects more than just our country. It is a day that can be celebrated by the world. It is to celebrate humanities home. But still recognize that we are killing that home. Inform yourself this earth day so that it can last longer than just a day. Inform yourself so that you know where your food comes from, where your medicine comes from and how your lifestyle effects the world. Research climate change, and the effects of agriculture. Know what the sixth extinction crisis is. That is the best way to fight for the planet, being informed. Once you understand the dire conditions of the planet, then you can do something to change it. It does not have to be hard. It can be as simple as eating a salad instead of a steak, or taking your trash to a recycling center instead of just putting it by the curb. Change starts from the bottom up. Government policy will not change to protect the environment until the population starts to show that we do care about the planet: our home. So we must first, understand that the planet is not just about humans, but the rest of life that we share this planet with. We must start seeing humans not apart from nature, but as a part of nature. That is when we will see change.