The Environment: Our Responsibility

The environment has become a hot topic amongst countries, lawmakers, and local neighborhoods. It has become such a controversial subject that few can agree on its effects, affects, and what measures we must take in order to preserve it. Fortunately for us young people, the environment will soon be our responsibility. Unfortunately, it is also our responsibility to obtain accurate information to create an environment that we can enjoy, as well as future generations. I recently interviewed Taylor Selby of Earth Care International, an organization committed to informing and helping youth care for the environment. Mr. Selby has offered both facts and insight as to how our generation can do just that, care for the environment.

Ask Questions

What does Global Warming mean? According Mr. Selby, "Global warming is the increasing of the temperature on the planet due to human activity. The past eleven of the twelve years have been the warmest in recorded history. Global Climate Change means that the climate will be significantly changing, more storms in some areas and more drought in others. We are already in a period of mass species extinction caused by human pollution. A simple way to ask yourself if global warming is happening is to ask yourself these questions: Does the atmosphere contain carbon dioxide? Does atmospheric carbon dioxide raise the average global temperature? Will this influence be enhanced by the addition of more carbon dioxide? Have human activities led to a new emission of carbon dioxide? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you have agreed to the [basic] premise of global warming."  Skepticism is only natural, but as Mr. Selby says, "Skepticism may be propagated by people who wish to deny the imminent impacts. Corporations whose interests dictate [such ideas] avoid acknowledging environmental issues due to immediate costs, or media corporations that are financially influenced by these companies." Skepticism and difficult questions can only be answered by following the next step.

Get informed

As I've mentioned in a few of my previous articles, learning and getting credible information is really difficult due to all of the news outlets available. Mr. Selby suggests Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins. The book focuses on how businesses can be good for both the environment and the economy. Mr. Selby suggests Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford, a Catcher in the Rye-esque meets western novel. Mr. Selby also recommends Earth Odyssey by Mark Hertsgaard and Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann.

Why Should I Care?

Just because a glacier isn't melting here in Santa Fe doesn't mean we shouldn't care. Mr. Selby says, "Just because we cannot see something doesn't take away from the validity of it. If a doctor tells you that you have cancer, she is the expert and you rely on what she tells you. You can't see the cancer but you will do what the doctor tells you so that you can be healthy again. Global Climate change is similar. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) consists of 1,600 scientists. They are experts, and they are unanimously telling us that we are on the edge of ecological collapse. They state that the warming of climate change is unequivocal (undeniable)."

Take Responsibility

As mentioned before, it is up to our generation to take responsibility for our environment. Obviously this is a lot easier said than done. But as Mr. Selby points out, we really can't afford to wait any longer. "Every tiny thing that each of us does makes a difference. That difference can impact the world in a positive way or a negative way. We are directly linked to the world; we need it healthy in order for happiness to exist."

Get Involved

Luckily getting involved in an effort such as caring for the environment does or doesn't have to be a big deal. It can mean reexamining where the meat you eat comes from (are the animals treated humanely?), or where you buy your clothes (could you be supporting child labor practices?). These simple day-to-day decisions do have greater impacts on our world. As Mr. Selby says, "The most important fact about the environment is that your health and future are directly linked to the health of our planet and bioregion." If you already feel as though you're making the right changes in your personal life, getting involved in your community is the next step. Earth Care International offers a youth after-school program or a class at their high school (if you don't have one, ask your principal to offer one). You can also call other local organizations such as the Forest Guardians, Earth Works Institute, and the Children's Museum to see what programs they may be offering. Furthermore, getting involved in politics can also create a significant impact. Writing your local U.S. representative or senator and ask them to create laws specific to your community to improve air quality or clean water. Mr. Selby says, "Youth voices go along way. Be persistent!"