Go Green or Go Home

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THE SITUATION: Currently, the United States is the largest producer of carbon emissions in the world.  The effects of our carbon footprint have had major lasting effects on our planet. Because of the amount of carbon the world emits, the globe is experiencing climate change at extreme rates.  Continuing on this trend would ultimately melt our polar ice caps causing the oceans to rise and destroying many cities and coastlines. The world needs to look for better solutions to decrease pollution.  The Guardian reports, right now, it’s “the transportation sector [that] generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. Over 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes gasoline and diesel.”  

Switching to cleaner modes of transportation like electric cars, transit, and subways would massively decrease the amount of pollution that is produced by our transportation needs.  The second largest producer of greenhouse gasses is from producing electricity. 28.4% percent of our emissions comes from the burning of fossil fuels to produce a massive amount of electricity and power.  Also, our industry is another huge factor in our pollution. 22% of our “Greenhouse gas emissions [come] from industry primarily… from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials.”  

However, according to a 1998 study, even though everyone can do something to decrease their carbon emissions and energy consumption, only 100 companies are responsible for 70% of the world’s carbon emissions. Companies such as “ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017 global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century.”  

The current situation has an effect on everyone and according to Mrs. Lafrance, “We have reached a time where if we don’t change our ways, the consequences will be dire; we should have started to remove ourselves off fossil fuels 20 years. The best time to start was yesterday, but since that’s the past we should do it now.”

 

OUR TAKE:

After reading about the desperation of the situation, there should be a consensus that action needs to be taken to address this problem, since not nearly enough action has been taken as of now. We recently just pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement which was a moderate action at best.  To start we should at least get back into the agreement, but the criticism is the U.S. will suffer economically if we enact these changes.

The solution to this problem could not be more clear: “Green New Deal”. If you took history class you know about the great depression and the fact that in some cases private industry was not willing to act, so there are some cases where the government must play the role of the job creator. FDR proposed a series of programs to lift the U.S. from the great depression, and factually speaking he got the job done.  He is favorably looked back upon by the majority of Americans. Now is the time to take a similar action that FDR did.

We need to convert our economy to a fully renewable/green economy as soon as possible. There are proposals on the table to do this. Rep Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii proposed a plan in the House to transfer us off of Fossil Fuels to green energy by 2027. It only has 45 sponsors in the house. Recently Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made headlines for joining a group of young people protesting her party’s leader, Nancy Pelosi, and her lack of action on the issue of climate change. Cortez called for “100% renewable energy and a green new deal” and this has caused the movement to make great strides in the recent days.

Yes, it costs money; everything does. Most estimates put the program around 200-600 billion per year with Jill Stein’s campaign putting the number at 200 billion per year. Our government raises much more than that; we also spend 685 billion on our military which according to annual National Priorities.org is more than the next 12 nations combined, most of which are our allies. Funding for the project can be found by cutting there, and most plans say we can also tax carbon and raise taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street to pay for this.

This proposal would create millions of jobs and revolutionize the economy, as well as making the US an actual leader in the world. It would net save us money in the long run, because if we don’t act on climate change the world as we know it will eventually fail. According to LiveScience.com and the UN Climate report, if we don’t act soon the damage will be irreversible to our planet, and droughts, famines, extreme weather, sea rising will burden our future generations with some of the biggest financial, moral, economic and possibly violent burdens ever seen.

 The Wall Street Journal reports we spent 5.5 trillion dollars on Iraq and Afghanistan.  We  don’t have the right priorities. We interviewed a classmate named Aidan, who describes himself as a person who is “caring for the planet,” if he would support an action even if it cost a lot and he said, “yes, we need to save the planet, not short-term profits.” We get the feeling this is the general consensus of the younger generation, who according to most polls support climate action greatly and understand the cost but know its worth it in the long run.

We understand in order to do this the government would need to take massive action, but according to Fox news, governments all over the world subsidize oil drilling, so we would just be taking a corrective action in order to help the planet and our futures. The UN climate report said we have 12 years to act before the damage is irreversible; we have the technology and the funds for a Green New Deal.  We just need the courage to implement it.

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