Something akin to panic is communicated onto my sterile computer screen, then my furrowed brow and soon my troubled mind when I sit alone, in the dark of my room and explore ideas and possibilities. Turning the light on and the computer off doesn’t dissolve my disturbed mood; nothing does until the outside can creep in and warm me. It’s usually a human voice; something more real than the essays and articles I read on global warming and remote ice caps that melt slowly every year.
The fear settles until someone with a weaker sense of reality can convince me that “something is being done” by environmental scientists and none of it will affect me when I am dust. In just the last fifty years, humans, namely Americans have virtually remodeled the Earth and everything on it. We have changed its landscapes, wind patterns, migration routes, and weather; diminished its greenery and killed its animals. Nature did not seem a force that could be controlled and yet it has been. We are conducting an inadvertent global experiment by changing the face of the entire planet.Order now
We are destroying the ozone layer, which allows life to exist on the Earth”s surface, clearing the majority of the earth’s forests, and disrupting countless ecosystems. The result has been an unfavorable alteration of the composition of the biosphere and the Earth”s heat balance. If we do not slow down our use of fossil fuels and stop destroying the forests, the world will become hotter than it has been in the past million years. This warming will rearrange entire biological communities and cause many species to become extinct.
The desperate plight of the environment should by all means be the first priority for every single government and person on this planet. With today’s common knowledge of what might happen in the near future if significant changes aren’t made in the lifestyle of most people it’s hard to understand why 70 million cars continue to vomit their poison into the air everyday. All around the world environmental activists fight to preserve our patches of rain forests and wetlands, as well as protect a variety of fragile but important ecosystems.
In all major cities, advocates of environmental conservation annually propose plans with alternative modes of transportation and energy-efficient appliances that will every citizen would be mandated to use. Even if instituted gradually, these changes could really make a difference. Usually, these efforts are in vain. The majority of people are not willing to make any drastic changes in their lives. Energy-efficient refrigerators and electric cars are available but they are different; beyond a simple trip to an appliance store or the car dealer, there are more steps involved in acquiring one.
In our consumer-driven society, it has become acceptable to waste; waste energy, waste water, waste time. Lifestyles have been established and most people, though they might have watched the special on PBS and read the article in Time don’t understand the very imminence of disaster. Unfortunately, it is the nature of humans to accept only the concrete, the “now” and unfortunately statistics with the words “in fifty years” preceding them are not now.
Because of this alternative lifestyles are not an alternative and warnings of the long-term result of our current gluttony and irresponsibility are being sadly ignored. All environmental scientists, educators, and policy-makers agree that the key to public understanding is public education. Without a thorough understanding of the problems facing the planet in terms of its fragile environment, humanity is on a collision course with disaster. It is not enough to warn people, impose economic sanctions, and establish strict regulations.
People must understand why they should recycle, how they can take care of their waste and why they should, what they can do to lessen their own individual impact on the earth and why it is so very important that they do. It is also essential that environmental education be appropriate and applicable to the person doing the learning. The disappearance of an insect with an unpronounceable name on a green hill in New Zealand is hard to associate with the daily commute to work. The fact that too deeply inhaling New York’s air will induce coughing is significant but few think about it.
The most influential factor in education is not necessarily schools but the media. If there was enough coverage of the environmental hazards of a product, people wouldn’t buy it. If the New York Times wrote enough about what scientists fear may happen to the planet, the people would listen. If the imagery of a whale drowning in oil after a careless spill was published on the front page of all newspapers, the people would care. But there isn’t enough coverage of any of these things, there isn’t enough information for the average person.
There is not enough research being conducted on alternative washing detergents, or food containers, or cars. It’s impossible and unrealistic to ask the makers of these alternatives to make them less expensive as capitalism is alive and well but it is possible to make average wasteful person, give up just one of life’s indulgences for the sake of the future. Living in a jungle of concrete it’s hard to appreciate what nature and the environment is and hard to understand what it’s disappearance means.
Beyond the possible consequences of global warming and our polluted air, there should be more done to help the environment for beauty’s sake, for the sake of the animals that are being most affected right now. There is nothing more permanent that extinction and 500 species of birds are being threatened by it. Perhaps in twenty years, the arched green back will no longer swoop through Brazil’s air. “Environmental Studies” were the most interesting and abstract words I had ever seen preceding “High School”.
For this reason and the fact that it was near Central Park, I decided to apply and then attend. Because of the central theme of my classes I have been exposed in the shape of special speakers and class discussions to others who share my fear but not my growing sense of hopelessness. Quite recently, it has become more and more important to me that I am a part of the solution for the problems facing the environment. It is fear that I feel when I allow myself to dwell on the ignored warnings and the very complicated mess of problems and impossibilities that plague this planet.
I don’t understand why there is even the possibility that one of the last natural, pristine ecosystem, in North America, namely that of Alaska, is in danger of being ruptured by the ever-powerful oil companies. I don’t understand why the heads of state who are infinitely more knowledgeable than me on the dangers of continued abuse of our gracious home don’t drastically and immediately cause change. I don’t understand why people haven’t listened. I guess it’s because they are not fifteen and scared.