The Need to Change our Current Path

In the society that we live in today, there is such an overwhelming desire to just make money and big businesses that are stuck in this capitalist system will not put the environment before edging out their competition. The way that the United States, and the world in general, is headed is going to have catastrophic effects on the environment and in turn, the people – starting from the people living in poverty, even though they are not the source of the issue itself. There are so many ways to reduce waste and consumption and people just need to open their eyes to new ideas and make small changes in their lifestyles. Some of these ways include considering a zero-waste lifestyle, beginning a garden and making some of your own food and recycling as much as possible.

Moreover, one way to reduce waste is to look into what it takes to live a life with zero waste. Yes, of course this is extreme; however, there are a lot of smaller things that people could start to introduce to their daily lives and then go from there. For example, Lauren from her blog Trash is for Tossers says that the process of living a zero waste lifestyle is not something that is just going to happen overnight or even in a week. First off, someone could stop buying plastic packaged items from the grocery store and buy items from bulk using your own containers. Something like this is so easy to incorporate into a lifestyle and in the long run is going to save you money because you will be just paying for the food you want and not all of the extra packaging.

Furthermore, another way to reduce waste and consumption is to start growing some of your own food through a garden in your yard or neighborhood. Ron Finley was even able to start his urban gardening in South Los Angeles. If he was able to do it along the sidewalks of a city, then it is definitely possible to do it in any area. This could make such a difference in a home and could allow a family or neighborhood to start a closed-loop system and then start composting as well. Also, if there are kids in the family or neighborhood it is so good for them to see how they can grow their own food and actually eat something healthy rather than just whatever is put in front of them and they are okay with it. Mr. Finley was so inspiring the way that he brought the gardening to his city in the vacant lots and how he was able to help so many people. He made it very clear that you can do it too, it does not take that much work – just one person to really get it going. Do not sit and wait for someone else to come out and make the change – there is no time for that. Go out and be the change that is needed right now.

Additionally, recycling is so unbelievably important in the way that people discard their waste because it makes a big difference in the volume of things that end up in landfills. It is so much better if people buy recycled goods from the start, if they are not able to buy it in bulk or make it themselves, because that prolongs keeping the items out of the landfill. The image to the right is a landfill with even more waste being loaded into it. People need to realize that the trash does not just stay there. Once landfill gets to a certain capacity, it is then burned off to make more room for the next load of trash that comes in. This is even worse because now the levels of greenhouse gas emissions are higher than they should be and there are no strict regulations on the degrees Celsius of increase anymore. We were pulled out of the Paris Agreement about a year ago and now we are not even held accountable by shame for the global warming we are causing because of our corrupted capitalist system. Ideally, the world’s temperature would not be increasing at all; however, at this rate our temperature will be increasing by seven degrees Celsius and that is going to have a horrible impact on the environment and the ways that people are currently living. The sea levels are rising and soon the houses of people who live close to the water are going to be in danger of major disasters during the hurricane season.

As a matter of fact, recycling would be one of the easiest ways to kickstart reducing waste and consumption and it has a massive positive impact on the environment. This article talks about the easy steps that can be taken to choose items that can be reused rather than tossed into a landfill and the change that it will make in the environment. Buying glass containers to carry food in rather than using plastic zip lock bags every day is just one thing that could be a small change with a large impact. Also, in the long run this would save the consume money because zip lock bags are thrown away after one use and the glass container would just be washed and reused.

All in all, it is so important to take reducing waste and consumption seriously, if not for you then for your future kids and grandkids. We do not want to live in a world full of waste and increased national disasters because we could not make a change now. The changes are not difficult, just start with the small things and work towards a zero-waste lifestyle, growing your own food and recycling as much as possible.

 

 

Can We Still Help the Earth?

I recently had the opportunity to visit and explore Venice, Italy for a few days on a family vacation around Europe.  While I was roaming the tiny streets of the historic city, one thing in particular caught my eye. It wasn’t the famous Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, or even the Grand Canal.  What I couldn’t keep my eyes away from was the Adriatic Sea, slowly creeping up the steps of buildings hundreds of years old, destroying the historic buildings. This increasing water level is one of the many destructive results of modern global warming.  Quite possibly the greatest problem with global warming is the fact that it’s entirely cause by humans, just like you and me. This is the greatest problem because it is also the only solution. The only way we can sustain the earth is if we change our lifestyles to incorporate more environmentally friendly practices.

While most of the world understands the effects of global warming, people may ask why all the sudden now is the time to start making changes.  The answer is really quite simple, we should have made changes decades ago before it got to such an aggressive level. The facts don’t lie: the five warmest years ever were all recorded after 2010, ice sheets in Antarctica are melting at 3X the speed they were 10 years ago, and the sea level rose 8” in the last century with the rate doubling in the most recent 10 years.  Pretty scary stuff, right? You can even see how this affects Venice in the image to the right, where algae is now growing on 3 levels of underwater steps that were previously above the water level.  This destruction of a great historic city is sadly a perfect example of the many costs of living a modern lifestyle.

Just like a product you buy in a store has a cost, so do your actions.  The various costs of living a luxurious, and quite wasteful, modern lifestyle are represented by climate change and global warming.  Essentially, global warming is a result of these negative costs. These costs tend to be hidden from the public since firms don’t want their customers to know the damage done in production.  The worst part is probably what you’ve already guessed, the majority of these costs are thrown on the earth and eventually the weight is too much for it to bear. At that point, the earth can’t handle the load of all these costs and thus global warming.  As stated in this article, “In its Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded there’s a more than 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet. The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 95 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years”.  Essentially, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that, with over 95% certainty, humans are factually and scientifically proven to be responsible for global warming.  

A question that’s been proposed many times is, why is global warming just becoming a large worldwide topic of discussion when it’s been happening for decades already?  The real answer is that global warming has reached the point where human lives are directly affected and, more than anything, inconvenienced by it. This is the honest, selfish answer no one wants to talk about.  Perhaps the most alarming fact is that the United States is ranked 26 in the most environmentally friendly countries, yet it produces 25% of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning, by far the largest share of any country and only 4% of the world’s population.  According to this article, “The whole world is off course on climate change by that metric, meaning that many countries, including the United States, under-promised in Paris. The world’s commitments thus far, assuming they are realized, would lead to a warming of 3.3 degrees Celsius (5.94 degrees Fahrenheit), rather than the 2 or 1.5 degree Celsius (3.6 or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) targets of the Paris agreement”(Mooney 2).  The main problem with this is that the world’s temperature is rising at a rate that’s insustainable for the earth. If the temperature is even 2.5 degrees farenheit over the target, which it’s current on track to be, it can have horrible repercussions. Therefore, we need to start changing our way of life for the earth to survive. One of the best ways to do this is moving towards renewable energy, instead of burning fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases.  According to this article, only 11% of the United States energy is produced using renewable energy sources.  Wind energy, the fastest growing renewable sources of energy only contributes to 2.4% of that.  In order to make a change, we need to start shifting our mindset towards more environmentally friendly practices.

While global warming is an internationally recognized world problem, there is a small percentage of people that don’t agree.  As you can see, global warming is currently a very large problem and something we need to fix. It’s up to you to help save the world, so start making a difference.