Planet Earth: the good news

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By MARA LLOYD

Lately, the only articles with the word “earth” in the title are about the rising of sea levels, the extinction of a species, or what percentage of plastic is actually recycled. It’s easy to feel hopeless, or even scared, with the promise that we have “11 years left” to save the environment. These facts are researched by professional scientists from several fields, and should therefore be taken very seriously. 

But who’s advertising the good news? The most beautiful thing about times like these, after all, is the way humanity gathers together to rise above the challenge. I believe that promoting the progress we’ve made towards saving the environment is just as inspirational as the reports of just how doomed we might be. 

Starting locally, there have already been efforts made within our very own school to be more environmentally conscious. The cafeteria was recently equipped with a compost bin for leftover food scraps so that they aren’t wasted, and they can be broken down into soil rich nutrients which assist in the growth of all sorts of plants. The students themselves volunteer to take out the compost, which teaches them a sense of what it means to be environmentally responsible and why it’s important. Connecticut has recently imposed a ten-cent  tax on plastic bags sold at check-out to deter shoppers from using them, as they’ll likely end up in the ocean or in a landfill. A few states away, Maine banned styrofoam use with a bill that will officially go into effect in January of 2021. 

Slowly but steadily, humanity is waking up and adjusting to the reality of the need to keep a clean planet. But plastic waste is just the tip of the iceberg— which is a good transition to the discussion of an even deadlier issue. As a result of CO2 capturing the sun’s heat and trapping it in our atmosphere, arctic ice is melting as global temperatures increase at an alarmingly fast pace, creating rising sea levels that have begun to swallow small islands and coasts, and will only continue to do so if action isn’t taken. Luckily for us, it is. At least, it’s beginning to. Being that rising sea levels are a global issue, world leaders have stepped up. China, despite being the world’s number one emitter of CO2, has owned up to their responsibility in contributing to global warming and aims to spend at least $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020. This would greatly subtract from the need for systems of manufacturing that produce CO2. 

Meanwhile in the UK, carbon emissions are down 42.1%  since the 1990s as of 2017. Puerto Rico has recently begun setting official goals to run 100% on renewable energy by 2050. 

The takeaway among all the negative news about climate change is not to let any crisis, whether global or on a smaller scale, discourage you, when it would be more productive to let it inspire you. We’re still far from our goal and irreversible damage as a result of climate change is an ever-present possibility for us all. The ocean is still chock-full of plastic and more and more species are becoming endangered as a result. It’s no surprise that it’s upon us as humans to work together to change for the better, which should inspire all of us to do our part, no matter how small.

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