Recently there has been a lot of talk about climate change. We have people on both ends of the spectrum who believe that we need to take action to try to reverse the effect of climate change and we have people who are in denial about climate change and claim that it is made up. However, despite these people who deny climate change there is scientific evidence that proves that climate change is affecting our environment dramatically. For people who listen to scientists, instead of arguing against facts, there is debate as to which methods we have to enforce to make a change in the climate.
The main issue that comes with climate change skeptics, one can argue, the root of that problem comes from our current sitting president. When we have a president who repeals acts to worsen our environment and denies the fact that we can make changes to save the environment, it allows for people to think the same. President Trump has gotten rid of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 in which his actions weaken protections for animals that are classified as threatened and puts them at risk for being extinct. He reversed the Obama-era Clean Water Rule that protects drinking water for millions of animals and 117 million humans. The Nixon-era rule that made environmental impact evaluations necessary before the start of major infrastructure projects, like oil pipelines, has been abandoned, and companies can now destroy ecosystems without hesitation. Largely, he opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling that threatens the future of roughly one thousand remaining polar bears. Lastly, Trump announced that the United States had left the Paris Climate Agreement which sets back the collective climate actions of an attempt to reduce emissions, a move towards renewable energy, and to create future climate action measures, especially when the United States is a leader in the amount of emissions released. His new proposed energy plan, once he left the Agreement, has also focused on an increase in oil fracking and the use of fossil fuels for energy.
When we take a look at our current climate events, major California wildfires every year, and a heavy increase in hurricanes which hasn’t been met since 2005, as well as the increased pressure being released by scientists about how little time we have before there is irreversible climate action, it becomes a thought of what can we do to save the environment. The truth of the matter is, it is hard to produce an impact that would help the environment when we have official leaders ignoring the imminent threat and even take measures to worsen our environment without thought. Even with the new digital clock in Manhattan’s Union Square, which showcases that we have a little under seven years before Earth’s carbon budget is depleted due to current climate emission, there does not seem to be any action from the president.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, there is high profile personnel who are fiercely fighting and encouraging a community outrage to demand climate action. For example, Greta Thunberg started school strikes as a way to get government recognition to take action. Her idea is that because of climate change, the human race will not be able to have a future, so because of that, her education does not matter. This inspired many people around the world to participate in school strives as a way for governments to see that their people care about the issue of climate change in the hope for the government to take action. Because of those actions, some countries are beginning to look at climate change. Something America is doing is led by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who drafted the green new deal, is looking for sources of renewable energy for America, and leaning away from the fossil fuel industry. Meanwhile, Germany is taking a different approach and is looking to make an increased tax on meat.
Why is meat the approach that Germany is taking? Well, the meat industry actually destroys our environment at an alarming rate. For starters, the methane produced by the overproduction of cows causes a large amount of greenhouse gases to be released. Moving further into the harm that the animal agriculture industry creates, the industry is the main cause of deforestation because land is needed to not only create the slaughterhouses and the breeding grounds of these animals, but the land is needed as flat open areas to grow the soybeans that all these cows eat. 1-2 acres of trees are cut down every second. As well, to grow said crops and allow the animals to grow, a majority of clean drinking water is used towards this industry. To put it into reality, one pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water. The United States animal agriculture industry creates enough food to feed 800 million people. That is more than twice the amount of American citizens. This means that if we were to live on a plant-based diet, we could feed everyone, and no one would have to die of starvation. More importantly, if people were to switch to a plant-based diet, we would need less land to produce our food supply. Not only are we using accessible water for an overproduction of food for animals to be killed, but the deforestation caused by this industry is a main contributing factor to the effects of climate change. When more trees are cut down, less CO2 is being absorbed back into the environment. That is what causes the increase of greenhouse gases, the depletion of the ozone layer, and the temperature increase of the Earth.
Despite these facts about the animal agriculture industry, that is in no way excluding the fact that there are many other ways we can help the environment. This includes reducing our amount of single-use plastic, moving towards slow fashion instead of fast fashion, reusing instead of buying new, etc.. Single-use plastic is detrimental to our ecosystems because it clogs up our oceans, creates excess waste, and even kills the unsuspecting animals who are looking for food. Fast fashion can hinder the environment because it creates a demand for mass production of cheap clothing, which is made using an abundance of water and, in the long run, causes extra landfill materials. Investing slowly, durable clothing pieces that will not go out of style is a great way to reduce your waste production. Lastly, buying second-hand, thrifted clothes and garage sale furniture, for example, is a great way to reuse the materials we already have and reduce waste.
So what is the best method for regular people to combat climate change? While the demonstrations of protest for governments to take action do help; immediate action that the average everyday person can do is to stop being wasteful with our resources in whatever way is possible for each individual. Is this society really going to watch our Earth die when we could easily decrease our impact on the Warth? Are we really going to deny the facts of science despite it being, I do not know, facts! How long are we going to stand back and watch the Earth become inhabitable?