It’s the end of the world as we know it

Mill Stream Staff

    On all fronts, Mother Nature is destined for a dirt nap. When the leader of the free world appoints a climate change skeptic as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s easy to tell that any amount of reason or logic cannot be found in the next four years when it comes to climate change. Of all the things to be turned into a political conflict, the well-being of the planet we live on should be the last thing on the list. No matter where you land on the political spectrum, the earth is dying, and no amount of money from oil companies will change that.

    According to WIRED, humans use more than 83 percent of the Earth’s land, but only 12 percent of it is protected. And under President Trump, that area is shrinking fast. Last year, President Donald Trump announced plans to shrink the monument by 85 percent according to the New York Times. While Trump says it will cut unnecessary tax spending, in reality it will jeopardize the landscape and important Native American sites.

    American dependency on fossil fuels also poses a huge environmental threat. According to Economy Watch, fossil fuels meet 85 percent of the total energy requirement in the United States. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 78 percent of US global warming emissions were energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide in 2014. Of this, approximately 42 percent was from oil and other liquids, 32 percent from coal, and 27 percent from natural gas.

    Despite breakthroughs in clean energy, Trump’s 2019 budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy shows huge cuts with very few details and did not have plans to further develop clean energy or energy efficiency.

    Not only does our government refuse to participate in environmental efforts abroad, even citizens of the United States are being left behind. Flint, Michigan, has not had clean drinking water since April of 2014. High levels of lead were found in the water after the city switched to the Flint river to supply it’s water. Officials neglected to use a corrosion-control treatment to maintain rust levels. Four years later, the necessary steps and research haven’t been done.

    In 2016, 195 countries decided to adopt the Paris climate agreement— the first ever legally binding global climate deal. Of those 195 countries, the United States is not one of them. While Trump says that there are possibilities to re-enter negotiations in the future, he claims the current deal would not be “fair” to the United States economy, as if attempting to stop the apocalypse wasn’t incentive enough for a little financial sacrifice.

    It’s easy enough to shrug, take a swig from our plastic water bottles (which, by the way, Americans waste enough of to circle the world four times, according to the University of Utah), and say we can’t do anything to help. But when the current administration is scaling back national monuments, increasing dependence on pollutant fossil fuels, keeping the US out of global initiatives to stop climate change, and denying its own citizens clean water, a call to one’s congressman doesn’t seem too heavy a price to pay.

    And what if we don’t change? According to BBC, by 2030, half of the world’s population will be living without enough water to go around. By 2050, food stores will be depleted. A few decades after that, overpopulation and environmental destruction will mean that more than two thirds of the world’s people will be tightly-packed into cities.

    It’s time to stop treating the problems of our environment as if they can be fixed by walking to school or taking shorter showers. As human beings we have gotten ourselves into a situation that can only be solved through large institutions of change.

    Taking care of our planet shouldn’t be reserved for Arbor day. The obligation we have to take care of the earth is moral, not political. Allegiance shouldn’t fall to the highest bidder, rather the well-being of the planet and the people who live on it. But, go ahead. Brush this off with, “Just recycle more.” I dare you. After all, everyone will be breathing the same poison gas in the end.