Sarah Grace Goolden
While we were all fighting about limiting single-use straws, the United Nations recently reported that 71 percent of global emissions have been traced back to only 100 companies since 1988. Limiting personal plastic-use is essential, but the real root of the problem is not with individuals, it is with corporations. Companies need to be held responsible for the garbage fire that is how they treat the environment.
Our planet treats us well. Earth provides us with food and water. Without the trees that spring from the soil, we wouldn’t have any oxygen. It gives us a place to live and a home for our children. Why are we ruining the very thing that fuels our existence? Even if the planet won’t die on us in our lifetime, why are we sabotaging our descendants who do not yet have a voice? For a large part, it is because we are not the biggest footprint. Most of us do what we can. Hopefully, most of us recycle and turn off the lights when we’re not in the room. Dietary changes have also become more widespread in an effort to combat our growing footprint. According to a 2017 report by GlobalData, there has been a 600 percent increase in those who identify as vegan in the U.S. since 2014.
I’m not trying to say that these things are not important, because they are. As a human being that takes up space on this planet, everyone should do their part in treating it with kindness. Every time you finally remember to dig up that reusable canvas bag for your groceries, it helps the bigger picture, even if it’s in a small way. If more and more people do the same thing, we can make a change. Never underestimate the power of individuals.
However, the ice caps are not melting because you took your car to work instead of biking one day. We have to hold these 100 companies responsible for what they are doing to the environment. Major contributors, like ExxonMobil and Shell, are literally fueling our reliance on fossil fuels. Oil and gas companies need to make the switch to clean energy, and quick. While it may still be considered risky to rely on renewable energy practices as they are still in an infantile stage, it’s considerably riskier to rely on the very process that is killing what we stand on.
The UN predicts that we only have 12 years to act on climate change. For reference, “Two and a Half Men” ran for 12 years. Is that not terrifying? We have just over a decade to do a complete 180 on how we treat our planet before the damage is irreversible. This is happening as we speak. We should be doing everything we can to stop this madness.
Companies are going to do whatever is most efficient and profitable, unless people absolutely refuse to support them, especially monetarily. Then the most efficient and profitable thing to do is to appease customers.
The world needs you, as an individual and as the public. As an inhabitant of Earth, it is your duty to do your part, and that can mean several things. First, one has to make a change in their own life. Something as simple as not letting the faucet run while brushing your teeth is a quick and painless way to make a difference. Compost bins reduce methane emissions from landfills. Plus, it’s as easy as throwing a banana peel into a bin. Voila!
Most importantly, we cannot stand idly by while companies profit from the massacre of our environment. Some might think this is discouraging. After all, how is an Average Joe supposed to stop 100 companies from doing what they’ve been doing for 30 years? Supporting non-carbon energy sources is a start. There are plenty of ways we can avoid fossil fuels by using wind, solar energy, etc.
When you’re voting in the midterm election this November, look at which candidates actually care about saving the planet. Tell your elected officials that this is something everyone should care about. Make sure to show your support for energy-efficient companies.
When I say that the earth is literally dying around us, I’m not exaggerating. If we keep up this same trend, scientists believe our temperature could rise by up to four degrees celsius. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? When your dad isn’t looking, you might turn the thermostat up more than that. However, when it comes to our planet it is a huge deal. This change in climate would lead to the extinction of not only our species, but of hundreds of thousands of other species on the planet.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes that this change could lead to “substantial species extinctions” and “large risks to global and regional food security.” Rising greenhouse gas emissions means saying goodbye to entire specials of animals. Global warming means rising sea levels that could render farmland useless. Our ecosystem is affected by everything. Four degrees celsius could be irreversible.
We need to make it almost criminal to not believe in global warming. Whether one thinks that the threat is as severe as the UN is telling us, at least everyone needs to understand that it is a process taking place around us- not propaganda by China. Hold yourself, your friends, your elected officials and these 100 companies responsible. No one is going to save this planet except us.