Environmental Degradation in the Modern Era

We need more Greta

By Julia Tuck
Staff Enviornmentalist

I once remember a high school history teacher of mine telling me how he did not know much about the environment. Still, he thought it was becoming increasingly worse. I then remember my AP Chem teacher, during my sophomore year of high school, confirming the fact that the environment is degrading, and that one did not need to be in an AP science class to recognize this. When I first heard about this issue, I did not know what to think, as I had grown accustomed to weather disasters such as Hurricane Sandy affecting my own area of New Jersey. I had wrongly assumed for some reason that this was natural and that these hurricanes and pollutants in the air were just some kind of byproduct of human existence. It did not take me long, however, to realize that this is not the way the environment should be and that global temperatures rising is negatively impacting the world.

In the recent news, I stumbled upon an article that addressed the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement within the United Nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and how current President Trump has fulfilled a campaign promise to leave the deal. This unnecessary and damaging choice has not only portrayed the clear reluctance of the President to address real issues but also displays how the current situation of the environment will consequently suffer. It has also been reported that Trump has sought amendments to the National Environmental Policy Act, which is key to mitigating and managing the amount of pollutants allowed as a result of the building of infrastructure. According to sources such as CNN, agencies will no longer have to consider “cumulative” effects of new infrastructure under the new rule, which courts have interpreted as a mandate to study the effects of emitting more greenhouse gas emissions. This change means that the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, could potentially go unreported or reported minimally to the extent that they are swept under the rug as not actual issues. This is not only concerning to me who does not want to face drastic and frequent environmental issues but should also serve as a wake-up call to those who will be facing these issues in times very soon to come.

The idea of degrading the environment for industrial purposes is far from a new idea. It is the idea of this destruction going unregulated in our modern society that poses the greatest issue. I can vividly remember learning last year in my AP Environmental class about the DuPont scandal and how the contamination of water negatively impacted those primarily in the West Virginia and Ohio areas, leaving many with diseases and even cancer. The fact is that these large corporations are getting away with too much because they are prioritizing profit over health, and money over the environment. The sad truth is that with minimal regulation, disasters will continue happening, and the world will very quickly become uninhabitable.
Most of all, I believe it is important for people to speak up. The recent protests, such as the Climate Strike in New York City, are calling attention to the point that we do not want to be living in a world where there is no consideration for the environment. It is important to not only get involved in the protest aspect in regards to public awareness but also to get involved politically by casting a vote for the best candidate who will ensure that these issues are in the spotlight for the upcoming 2020 U.S. election. This is paramount not only for the people in society today but also for posterity because we are all on this Earth, and it is up to us to make sure we do not let our planet become increasingly degraded any longer.

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