Commentary: The fate of the earth is our responsibility

We must take action now or regret our decisions later

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Commentary: The fate of the earth is our responsibility

Emily Hansen, voices editor

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  The earth that we know and love is not going to last forever. Humanity has fallen into a habit of unsustainable practices that need to be stopped if we’re going to leave the earth the same way we found it.

  As a disclaimer, I must add that I know I am part of the problem. I certainly don’t live a zero-waste life, and I’m not always careful of my impact on the environment.

  That being said, my goal is to become more conscious of my own mark on the environment so that I can begin taking steps to reduce my waste and unsustainable practices.

  I’ve started making minor changes that might seem rather minute but will hopefully make a difference in the long run.

  For instance, I use reusable water bottles instead of plastic. I use washable containers as opposed to plastic bags. I recycle any cans or bottles that I use. I pick up litter if I see it. I eat local or home-grown fruits and vegetables.

  I know I still have a long way to go. But I think everyone should be able to make at least a couple of lifestyle changes for the sake of the earth.

  The first step, after all, is to realize the impact we truly have on the environment.

  Be aware that the average person produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day, ending up in a landfill. Consider how transportation contributes about half of the carbon monoxide in the air. Think about the greenhouse emissions from everyday electricity use.

  The next step is to make changes to at least reduce that impact. Carpooling, recycling and composting are all easy ways to help the earth thrive.

I believe this will be the generation to take the first big steps toward major environmental conservation.”

— Emily Hansen

  Ethicalconsumer.org is one website that makes it easy to be an environmentally conscious consumer. It ranks brands of everything from makeup to technology according to the company’s ethical and sustainable practices.

  Changes like choosing one brand over another are too simple to not enact. But the decline of the environment needs change at an even greater scale, and that’s where our legislation needs to step it up.

  I believe this will be the generation to take the first big steps toward major environmental conservation.

  In fact, that’s really our only option – if we want to avoid the impending terrors that scientists have told us we will experience in our lifetimes due to greenhouse emissions, our changes needs to be drastic.

  I’m not a climate expert, but I trust the 91 scientists from 40 different countries who wrote the Paris agreement, and I personally think we should heed their advice.

  As Californians, we all know the devastation that wildfires are capable of inflicting. That destruction and grief will be commonplace if greenhouse emissions are not reduced drastically.

  Fortunately there is hope, and there are certainly preventive measures that can be taken.

  We are heading in the right direction.

  I am proud of what California has accomplished so far in reducing our footprint on earth. Charging for grocery bags and limiting plastic straws are two minor changes that will be impactful and hopefully encourage other states.

  In the end, if we don’t change direction, there will be no one to blame but ourselves for our downfall.

  Most importantly, we have to remember that even small modifications to our quotidian lives can help.

  I’m 18. I can’t be in Congress. But I can recycle, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

  Change starts with the little things.

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