Stop drinking out of plastic straws and cups. Eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. Carpool with your friends. All of these are wonderful ways to do your part in reducing pollution.
Unfortunately, you could make all of these changes and more and it still wouldn’t reverse the negative effects of climate change. Individuals choosing not to use plastic straws may help a little, but the real culprit of the majority of the environmental mess we’re in is large corporations.
No amount of reusable straws could offset the amount of waste and chemicals major companies dump into our oceans. No amount of bike sharing could offset the fossil fuels American corporations pump into the atmosphere with little regulation. The media placing the blame on American individuals is misleading, because it makes it seem as if the public could single-handedly solve the problem.
Companies like Chevron, Exxon and BP are major carbon producers in the U.S. sixty-three percent of industrial carbon dioxide and methane released in the atmosphere can be traced back to just 90 companies.
Climate change is not a problem that individuals can fix. This is a policy issue. We are allowing these companies to pollute our oceans and atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. Instead of attacking people for not recycling, despite its importance, we should be calling out big companies like Chevron to lessen their output of fossil fuels.
We should be asking Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to produce less plastic, which is littering our oceans. Eight metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. This is not because you drank out of a plastic bottle — it’s because companies mass produce plastic products.
Despite President Donald Trump removing the climate change tab from the White House website, climate change is real and it’s happening. Telling citizens climate change isn’t real is dangerous to the future of the environment. When Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, he not only put the environment in danger, but he indirectly told the American people he did not care about the environment.
The U.N. said we have 12 years to get global warming under control before we can’t stop it anymore. The sea levels are rising at a dramatic rate, which affects Louisiana directly because of our deltas. There will be more droughts and storms than ever before in history.
The U.N.’s report says that global warming could cause famine, disease, economic tolls and refugee crises. Even half a degree could make a difference. The moderate level of average warming is 1.5 degrees celsius, and if it gets to 2 degrees celsius, there could be massive devastation.
Under the Paris climate agreement, the U.N. set a goal to limit warming to an increase of 2 degrees celsius above the Earth’s average temperature, but they hope to have a stricter limit of 1.5 degrees celsius. We will need to make serious changes to our environment and the amount of money that we are spending on cleaning up the air and ocean in the next 12 years.
Ashlon Lusk is a 19-year-old mass communication sophomore from Houston, Texas.