By Asenat Prado
“12 years are left until climate change becomes irreversible.” “88 pounds of plastic found inside the stomach of a dead whale.” “In 2018 California wildfires become the deadliest and most destructive wildfires the state has had in history.” Our newspapers have been stained with alarming headlines like these, and it seems no one has lifted their heads. Consequently, we decided to interview our very own members from the New Horizons Ecology Club, asking them their thoughts on what is happening on our Earth, and what they believe could be done to take a step towards saving it.
Our first interviewee was 11th grade Student Natalia Diaz. Natalia has been a member of the Ecology Club for the past few months and is known for always trying to be as environmentally savvy as she can, whether it’s recycling, growing plants, or avoiding the use of plastic. We decided to sit her down and ask what issues she deemed worrisome about our Earth, to which she responded with mentions on the occurring wildfires, droughts, and marine loss. She goes on to specify how turtles are in fact dying due to straws and plastic bags as they mistake these for food. Next, we asked why she thinks these things are occurring, she hesitated and gloomily stated “people are not taking care of their environment, they’re not doing what they’re supposed to, they’re doing more damage than good. Afterward, she summarized the marine loss situation in ten powerful words. “We have survived without plastic, we can do it again!“
The problem with plastic pollution is that it’s rapidly increasing and affecting our oceans more and more every day. In fact, Marine plastic pollution has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammals. It is evident that this devastating fact has made an impact on our generation and we are becoming seemingly aware of these issues, such as our very own Natalia Diaz, who’s passionate to bring about change.
When asked specifically about what we as individuals can do to bring about change, at least in this country, she brought up the implementation of laws. Laws that stimulate recycling that would motivate those to save the earth, and reversely, fines for acts such as littering. She also mentioned the separation of recycling bins and regular garbage bins, for when the trash needs to be recollected. Furthermore, she believes we can also bring about change within our very own New Horizons by having consequences on those who decide to litter by placing sanctions on kids who do not pick after themselves.
Lastly, we asked if she truly believed change could occur on our planet, she responded shortly but passionately, “Small changes are gonna make a big difference.” Natalia emphasized what I felt was the essence of the matter, “The number of… things that have been going on for years and people haven’t done anything.” She dived deeper, addressing how this is a problem that has simply built itself up over the years, and it’s we that are paying the price for it, for “why does our generation have to pay for what other people did?” It’s simple thoughts and questions such as these that should wake us up as a generation to bring about change and save the earth that we call home.
Moreover, our next interviewee was New Horizon’s very own Carlos Sanlley. Sanlley is not only an educator of the Ecology Club, but he is known for his vast knowledge of Environmental science. Therefore, when asked what issues seem dire to the current condition of our planet, he had quite a lot to say. Sanlley took a pause before answering, “that’s a big question,” and spoke about climate change as it being “a big issue everywhere” and people “not doing enough to stop it.” He went on to explain how greenhouse emissions actually went up this year, especially from coal fire plants, as underdeveloped countries such as China and India require a different infrastructure to build these plants.
The next issue he found attention-worthy was habitat loss, as it is the greatest factor affecting biodiversity. “Whether it’s rainforest cutting for lumber, using the land for agriculture, converting deserts into agricultural land…” he provided examples of how we as humans are destroying the home we live in. He went into detail about how some environments, such as Aquatic ones, are more susceptible to this destruction. A specific example would be the Great Barrier Reef, in which 60% of it is dying. We then asked him why this was considered such a big issue, to which he answered, “because of the scale.” Sanlley explained how if you cut down 100 trees it takes 30 to 50 years to recover, and if a lot of people are doing this and at such a large scale, it’s difficult to recuperate.
Furthermore, he shifted to waste product, as “we produce a lot of waste and we do not have a good way of getting rid of it.” This specifically regarding plastic waste, he mentioned: “the biggest issue is that that it lasts so long, a plastic bag lasts 100 to 200 years to disappear.” Additionally, just as Natalia Diaz stated, he brought up the effect of plastic waste on marine life, and how animals mistake this plastic for food, causing it to be a big issue for biodiversity loss in the ocean.
The final issue he stated was the one of clean potable water. “You’ve heard before that water is a renewable resource, but clean water is not. And we’re running out of it because it’s being polluted from fertilizers and solid waste and wastewater produced by humans. Over time we have to work harder to clean the same water.“ Sanlley explained almost desperately that several rivers and lakes are drying out, and that the demand of water is increasing, therefore we would have to work harder to obtain clean water, from the ocean for example. However, this itself requires more energy, which leaves us at a standstill. So what’s the solution? Sanlley says, “Waste less water and pollute less water,” but because water is cheap, people don’t pay attention to this.
Now discussing solutions, we asked what is something that people should keep in mind? He responded with, “waste less, less food, less packaging, less plastic, less everything really.” He explained how by reducing the amount you waste on plastic, you decrease its demand for it, helping reduce gas emissions, further helping decrease climate change. His final statement on the topic was one that should stick in our minds, “waste reduction is the one thing everybody can do and become more aware of.”
Evidently, our Earth is dying, it has been for years, and it’s time we stop ignoring the problem. What is the problem? Us. Humans are the ones mainly responsible for the decaying of the planet, whether it’s by pollution or the destruction of habitats for our own selfish capitalist needs, we are killing the place we are supposed to call home. It’s time to start taking responsibility for what we have done to the Earth and begin saving it. People believe that they have little influence, that little changes such as avoiding the use of plastic, carpooling, remembering to turn off the water, recycling, and throwing away their garbage won’t amount to anything. However, if every single person puts in a little effort, one turns to billions, and with billions, there is no excuse as to why we cannot make a change. Wake up and save the Earth, the place that has been so kind to welcome you into its home, before it becomes too late, and our damage becomes far too irreversible, there isn’t much time left.