When thinking about how to start this essay, I tried to create an attention getter. I ruled out “Say Goodbye to Greenland” and “Don’t Buy Coastal Property” as they might seem to make light of the issue, even though both of those statements may be true. Instead, I decided on this. “Global Warming is Killing Our Planet.” Many scientific studies have shown there are significant changes occurring in the environment and most of them are directly related to human activities. The most important effect of human activities on the environment is that of the dramatic shifts in climate caused by atmospheric pollutants. The Earth’s temperature has already risen 1 degree Celsius since the pre-industrial age and it is expected that by the year 2100 the increase will be between 2.6 and 4.8 degrees unless major changes occur. Is one degree really a big deal? YES! How bad could 3 degrees be? VERY, VERY BAD! Think mass extinctions, extreme weather systems, exacerbated drought cycles, famine, melting poles and glaciers leading to rising sea levels that, in the not-distant future, will have disastrous effects. Many people recognize the need to address global warming and many regulations have been created in an effort to reduce the harmful effects of human activities on the climate. But what has been done is not nearly enough.
To solve this problem, people must think differently about it and the most important step we can take is to change mindsets. Our children need to grow up understanding their impact on our planet. In order to reverse the warming trend and heal the Earth, we need to change the way we live. These changes will be small and big. Something as personal and easy as not using plastic water bottles. This effort would reduce carbon emissions as over 50 million barrels of oil are used each year just to manufacture the water bottles consumed in the US and not using the plastic water bottles would prevent 60 million bottles from going into landfills every year.
Changing the way we live, starts with education. My solution is to include green living into daily education routines and lessons. Imagine if schools were mandated to incorporate green living and education into the curriculum of every grade.This would include both the lessons taught and the school buildings themselves. Children would be made aware of the impact of their actions from an early age and they would be taught how to reduce their carbon footprints in age appropriate ways. The end result of this would be children who would believe in the value of our Earth. This would be very powerful. This would be the generation that would change the world because they would know first hand that being green was not only possible, but that it was preferable.
Prior to graduating from high school and college, these students, of all ages, would encourage their families to become more environmentally conscious. Imagine if every household began to recycle. Would this occur instantly and everywhere? No, but the idea of taking care of our Earth would grow. Imagine if children asked their parents and grandparents about their carbon footprints. We could raise awareness of adults through their children. Some of these adults would change their thinking, actions, and lifestyles, and then these “enlightened” adults might be able to enlighten their friends and family.
After graduating, these students would then be put into positions where they could significantly impact, and ultimately reverse, global warming. As adults, they might become scientists and engineers who design new forms of renewable energy. They might discover a way to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and other pollutants. They might become involved in government and would be able to regulate and legislate a path to reducing and reversing the warming trend. They would be the leaders of their communities and the leaders of their own households. Their households would be green, and their children would grow up knowing no other lifestyle. These adults would purchase products that were green, thereby stimulating the economy of green living.These adults would shun those products that hurt the Earth, and those businesses would be forced to evolve and embrace green living.
The actual school programs would begin in kindergarten or even younger. The concepts of carbon footprint and global warming would be introduced at this early age. Schools would have mandatory recycling of paper, plastic, metals and items with bottle deposits. The bottle deposits could be used to purchase something that students would see and use everyday. This would be a visible and symbolic reward of their recycling efforts. Solar panels would be on every school roof. Environmental and Recycling clubs would be a part of every school’s activity choices. Every classroom would have recycling bins. Plastic water bottles would not be sold in the schools. School buses would be replaced with environmentally friendly vehicles such as CNG (compressed natural gas) through attrition. There are so many ways, big and small, that our schools could go green, but the looming question is money. How would we pay for this?
Money. It’s a real concern. You can’t have a solution to a problem if the funding isn’t there. To pay for the educational program above, I would propose several funding plans. The first would be a $1.00 tax added to everyone’s income tax. The second would be a voluntary fund raisers. Another way to fund this program would be a hefty financial penalty to companies failing to comply with state and/or federal government pollution standards. The fourth way would be some type of tax on fossil fuel industries. The key would be to ensure the funding was prioritized and that students across America were educated about the disastrous impact of global warming and their role in reversing the effects. Our planet Earth can’t be replaced and we need to work together to save it.