The Human Responsibility

If you are an average student graduating high school in America, you follow a similar path to the rest of your class- go to college, study, spend time with friends, sleep, eat, workout. Four years later, when you wake from this surreal bubble, real life compounds on you like a pound of bricks. You are no longer forced down the same path as everyone else- and it’s time to make your own decisions about where you want your life to end up. Some will choose careers in finance, some will choose careers in journalism, some will choose careers in education, and there are endless other possibilities. What very few people stop to think about is that in order to perform in any of these careers, you need one thing: an earth to live on.

So where does the environmentalist come in? To many, as an overbearing, judgmental voice, seeming to say “why can’t you just be greener.” Unfortunately, we no longer have the liberty to ignore this voice (and let’s try to pretend that she is not as annoying as you would think). There is no easy solution. For the first time in human history, we are at an energy standstill, and there is no immediate, convenient alternative. We cannot simple replace fossil fuels with an alternative energy source; oil is 13 times as efficient as biofuels. Solar energy is too unreliable without anywhere to aggregate the collected energy, especially on stormy days or in the dark. So while economies continue to change, journals continue to be published, and students continue to graduate, our earth is left in this uneasy standstill.

A vast majority of citizens of the United States do not care about environmental issues because they believe that climate change will not reasonably affect them in our lifetime. The sad truth is that the effects of climate change are coming faster than anyone anticipated, and faster than even our best climatologists can predict. With climate, there is not an easy, one stop solution. As with any severe, large scale problem, it takes a collaboration of minds and thinkers to come up with a reasonable result to the problem. We cannot just rely on the environmentalists to take control of the issue- maintaining the quality of life on earth is a responsibility of all of earth’s inhabitants.

We will fix the environment. But it will take the minds of many- not just scientists- to do so. It would seem as though just when you thought leaving college would be the time to take a path away from your peers, this is the perfect opportunity to instead combine passions to help preserve the world in which we all live. Do not fear climate change, and do not sit around and wait for someone else to fix it. Take the knowledge you have and do something with it.

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Don’t Just Think Green- Act Green.

As an environmental science major, I do a ton of scholarly reading on climate change, environmental health and anthropological engagement on our planet. Reading after reading, academic after academic, I am fed similar information, all with an underlying message: humans are affecting our planet; we will soon be forced to change the way we live.

Humans are an adaptive species- but that doesn’t mean that the challenges we have yet to face won’t be difficult. Simply, with climate change comes climate responsibility. We can change our lifestyles, but we will be encouraged to make smart changes if there is any hope of helping to stabilize our planet.

Mother Earth needs us- and to be honest, it’s about time to pay her back for her hospitable endeavors. As creatures of her turf, we, as humans, have neglected her generosity. Human success and our own personal ambitions have blinded us of the unique privilege we have to be living on this planet. Guzzling energy, water and food while trying to personally succeed in our own lives will be worth nothing if we don’t have a place to live when the day is done.

For the past few years, the word “green” has taken on a new meaning in a colloquial context. Society understands what the green movement stands for- but as humans, we have yet to commit to a solution. Society needs activists- we need people that are going to get up and not stand for sluggish efforts. We need individuals to insist that the government, starting with our presidential candidates, advocate for clean energy. We need individuals to make conscious purchasing decisions, including thinking about where the final destination for certain goods will be. Most importantly, we need individuals to take the information that is right in front of them every single day, and  do something about it. It’s not only up to the climate activists and environmentalists- it’s up to the everyday citizen, and it can start with you.

As an environmentalist myself, I would like to start this blog with an official disclaimer: the reason I care about the environment is not because I am a tree hugger or bird lover (I actually despise birds), but because I love life. I want to live a long, healthy, fulfilled life, and I don’t want to grow up in a place that can no longer support human innovation. We are an unbelievable species- but we need to maintain the grounds on which we live. So ask yourself this, would you want to raise your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or cousins, in a community where we wear space suits to breathe and live off of corn and desalinated water? Sounds pretty abominable to me. So let’s do everything in our power to change that- let’s do everything in our power to keep where we live a green enough place to live in tomorrow.