Environmental efforts needed today to ensure tomorrow’s future

Kaitlin Clark, Print Editor-in-Chief

Society has become far too comfortable pushing the environment to the back of its agenda. It’s an easy thing to do, what with the seemingly never-ending whirlwind of worldwide political turmoil that is reported on and analyzed at breakneck speeds. Meanwhile, humankind is ruining the only home it has ever known and hardly cares to stop it. Climate change is a major threat to the Earth’s future, and if we hope to keep the natural beauty of the world, changes must be made.

On the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s page about climate change, there is a quote from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They state, “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

The organization is comprised of 1,300 scientific experts from across the globe who operate under the guidance of the United Nations and collectively came to the conclusion that global warming is indisputable. Reputable scientific sources have proved time and time again that it is a concern, yet the current chief of the Environmental Protection Agency has stated that climate change is not the top concern for him. In an article from Time that was published online last Friday, agency chief Andrew Wheeler stated that, while he does not dispute that climate change is largely human-caused, he did have reservations about a study from EPA scientists that was released in April in the Natural Climate Change journal.

Just because our scientists publish something in a journal doesn’t mean that that’s agency policy or all the other scientists at the agency agree with that particular study,” Wheeler was reported saying in Time’s article.

The impact of climate change is all around us, with melting ice in the north and more extreme temperatures — both high and low — across the globe, but it is still not the agency’s top concern.

The impact of global warming and the human activities that have contributed to it are undeniable. The IPCC released their Fifth Assessment Report in 2014. In their 2014 Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers, it is stated: “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

If things continue the way that they currently are, then the negative impact that we have had on the environment cannot be undone. Additionally, the impact on weather cycles can throw the natural balance of the environment into chaos, threatening wildlife and humankind alike. If we hope to have a planet that we can pass down to future generations, then actions need to be taken today.

People often think that pushing for environmental actions against climate change means using metal straws as opposed to plastic, or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. While these are important changes that people can — and should — make in their everyday lives, we need to combat climate change at two of its biggest sources: transportation and industry. While some people have no other option besides driving to travel, those who can should consider riding a bike or using public transportation if available. This can help begin to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. This one action, if done by many, can become a major source of change. Industries, however, are also a large source of greenhouse gas emissions. Contacting your local representatives and encouraging them to lobby for restrictions on emissions for major companies is one way you can get involved. Reaching out to lawmakers and making your voice heard has the potential to make an impact if done by people across the country. Standing together and working toward implementing more environmentally friendly laws and everyday behaviors can make a difference.

Environmentalism is no longer something that can be pushed to the back of society’s attention. We are running out of time to save our planet’s natural wonders and preserve our way of life. One opinion piece in one high school newspaper can’t save the world, but if we as a society come together, then we can push for the change that the Earth so desperately needs.