by Brianna Marmol
The other day I heard a friend’s grandmother lamenting about the pressure to go “green”. She said that while recycling is important, she can’t buy a recycling bin because “I’m old and can’t be bothered. There’s too much to do. It’s just not my problem.” Not my problem. Twinkie wrappers and plastic bags are suffocating the Earth, and we can’t even take the time to buy recycling bins.
Earth is a mother that nourishes, provides, and protects us, and deserves protection in return.
We bully the Earth; the Earth is a small, gawky child in a classroom that is pinched, poked, and ignored when it cries. We tell Earth to shut up and stop complaining, then look away as it grows ill and depressed. We do not pay attention until Earth slowly simmers in increasing rage after innumerable beatings. We only notice once it begins to explode. And it has.
Flooding in Louisiana. Hurricane Matthew. Over two dozen California wildfires. Hurricane Harvey. Hailstorms in Dallas and Denver. Hurricane Irma. And the latest:Hurricane Maria. “The unusual atmospheric conditions in the USA in the first half of 2017 provided the perfect conditions for powerful [natural disasters]… the number of tornadoes observed in the first quarter of 2017 was twice as high as the average for the last 10 years,” says Peter Höppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research, quoted by Doyle Rice from USA Today. These natural disasters destroy economies and displace thousands of people from their homes, and most of these disasters occurred in the United States.
I’d love to place our environmental problems on someone else’s shoulders, but that isn’t an option. I’ve been part of the problem, and now I’d like to give what reparations I can. I’d like to believe many people relate to how I feel.
My being more conscious of my everyday actions and the systems that allow and support global warming is the first step. Individually, we need to act by changing our lifestyles in little ways, like turning off the lights in an unused room and shutting off the faucet while brushing our teeth. It means using reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones, spending that extra 5 minutes looking up our towns’ recycling days, and picking up trash on a sidewalk.
However, more substantial actions are needed since there are many ways our society and the systems in place enable climate change. For example, who knows where our trash ends up, or how much of it ships overseas? I don’t, and many people I’ve spoken to don’t know either. We could solve this problem by pressuring companies to make their products biodegradable. Corporations may seem all-powerful, but in the end, they want to make money. If people stop buying their products, like plastic (which fills our oceans and kills the seafood that is the main food source for many people in coastal regions), then corporations will change their merchandise and the way we produce said commodity.
Another problem is transportation: how we deliver the products to our homes and stores. Much of the world runs on fossil fuels, but we can make vehicles run on solar energy, electricity, or other renewable energy sources. Additionally, we can use taxes to pay for the installation of solar panels in every home, school, and office building, which will reduce our carbon footprint.
Politics play a role as well: we need people in power who care about the Earth. Educating ourselves and voting for those who support and execute eco-friendly policies are steps in the right direction towards changing our world for the better. Even if politicians initially don’t care about global warming, they will enact policies that protect the Earth once they realize the people want environmentally aware leaders. These actions won’t stop hurricanes, but they show something just as important: respect towards the Earth. In essence, we need to do something. Care.
The blame for these problems is passed around like the results to a test; no one wants to see their grade. There’s a considerable focus on the “I”:I work eight hours, five days a week, and still need to save money; I am too busy cooking and cleaning to research going green. It’s understandable: between balancing work, friends, family, and hobbies, we’re extremely stressed. Who has time to care about cutting down trees faster than they are replenishing?
We think issues like global warming, bleached coral reefs, declining animal populations, rising ocean acidity and sea levels, and water pollution need to be someone else’s concern. But the Earth is in a terrible state, and it’s our responsibility to acknowledge this and care for where we live. Care about the world, not only for the future generations and ourselves but also for Earth, who, though voiceless, shouldn’t be a bullied child. She is a mother that nourishes, provides, and protects us, and deserves protection in return.
by Brianna Marmol
Brianna is a senior English major and media studies minor at Moravian College. She has a passion for environmental awareness and enjoys reading, dancing, crocheting, hiking, and adventures.
(Essays express the ideas of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Alliance.)
More Voices of the Valley from Sustainable Lehigh Valley.