I talk about the environment very often. I see people getting wrapped up in issues, such as apps popping up requests to rate your experience, and I could care less. When there are so many more important problems at hand we such be invested in, a daily inconvenience becomes increasingly insignificant.
So when I’m about three weeks from flying back to the States and I hear about major setbacks in environmental protection, that’s where I get heated. (global warming heated, that is). I know today will mostly be a rant, so you’ve been warned.
The Trump administration’s recent go-ahead on building the Dakota Access pipeline and deprioritizing environmental protection in favor of job creation and production feels like two major steps back. We shouldn’t be surprised, but knowing the very real implications of these executive orders is downright scary. Sure, in the present moment we’ll see job and economic growth and implementing sustainable development would require immediate sacrifices, our desire for instant gratification and capitalistic profit, if not checked, will destroy us.
A clean energy economy is not an idea that sounds nice in retrospect; we need it desperately.
Admittedly, the questionable political stance on sustainability is not just American. In one of classes discussing intergovernmental organizations, my professor made the point to emphasize that the framework for any organization or universal policy on climate change is very weak. Developing countries trying to grow are more interested in cheaper options that often are very damaging. Industrialized countries are wary of establishing restoration and preservation plans if they affect key industries like oil or lumber.
I see so much passion and action happening on the citizen, homegrown level promoting the environment. But I do fear that I’m biased in hearing these voices louder than a potential other group of people who either don’t care or aren’t willing to give up their livelihoods for something different.
Policymakers need to take a stronger stance on climate change. The only places that truly agree on sustainable measures are countries where people’s lives are currently affected, like small island nations that might soon be underwater. In this way, too many of us our selfish by ignoring and avoiding a world problem that truly affects everybody. Ignorance is acceptance. Acceptance of deforestation, of pollution, of shrinking biodiversity, of ultimate demise.
Climate change is not something we can isolate. It affects every aspect of life, including the economy, security, and human rights. The people and places most affected by climate change are the ones that have no choice. Places of poverty, of people who still live directly off the land, people who have survived on local natural resources for centuries, only to be helpless to the careless actions from the developed world.
I really think we need a universally binding policy or at least an accountable governmental body that can hold everybody accountable. The fight against climate change, while applaudable on an individual and regional basis, really needs some footholds in the larger context. When we’re so focused on money and development and our current status, our choices reflect that, disregarding the future generations who also deserve to live in a clean, safe world. Every single person.
When often considering really large-scale issues, I realize many people don’t pay as much attention to it as a problem directly affecting their everyday life. Columns I write for my college newspaper only have a chance to be read and appreciated if they somehow tie back to my campus, state, or college students. Otherwise, what right do I have to talk about faraway topics that I have no personal connection to?
Climate change is different. Everybody is qualified and should be concerned about our planet’s health. We have to be conscious about how our actions harm or benefit the world around us. This isn’t temporary. This isn’t a problem in the far-off future. Little modern-day inconveniences have felt so much less important to me recently when I expose myself more often to information on the environment, when I draw the focus away from myself and look toward the quality of life for everyone.
It’s one thing to step into the shoes of somebody whose life may be in danger, who cannot live in a home that will eventually be underwater, who may have a shortened lifespan from constantly inhaling pollution, who cannot find drinking water that isn’t contaminated with toxic waste, who can no longer make a living from the earth that is lacking nutrient-dense soil, completely dried out, or flooded away.
It’s time to put political tensions or power games aside and vote with Mother Earth’s green, not the stock market’s green. We owe it not to big business nor absentminded politicians. We owe this to ourselves, our well-beings, and our futures. Creating a few new jobs will mean absolutely nothing if we can no longer inhabit our own planet. There are no second chances. We’ve made progress already, but if we keep moving backward thanks to national authorities unwilling to choose the right decision that yes, might result in some people’s disapproval and some sacrifice, but would ultimately alleviate worsening the damage at hand, then I’m honestly afraid. Sustainability is not a choice anymore; it’s a necessity.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie