I believe that some of the most significant changes to our environment can only be done through a wide scale global effort. By this, I mean that governments and big businesses need to work together to implement changes. One change that would be very helpful would be to implement global changes to reduce gas emissions. Another helpful change would be to develop clean forms of energy. In addition, a global effort should be made to remove already existing CO2. Furthermore, knowledge is power; therefore, more funding needs to be directed towards scientific research on environmental issues.
On of the biggest changes that needs to be made, especially in high-income countries like the US, is decrease in consumption. Statistics vary slightly from one researcher to another, but across the board the difference in consumption habits between the US and just about any other country in the world are astounding. Our excessive consumption habits can have detrimental effects on practically every aspect of the environment.
In terms of oil consumption, it not only increases carbon emissions, but also leads to the destruction of ecosystems around drilling sites.
Over-consumption of food means more land taken up for farming, less biodiversity, more packaging waste produced, more pollution from pesticides and fertillizers and more oil consumption in transporting food and running farm equipment.
Over-consumption of natural resources (including metals, minerals, wood, water, etc.) means habitat destruction, again more oil consumption, pollution from toxic chemicals used in processing raw materials, and (of course) depletion of extremely valuable resources.
Finally, overconsumption of manufactured items (such as clothing, toys, furniture, etc.) leads to depletion of natural resources, pollution from manufacturing, oil consumption from manufacturing and transportation, and increased waste from packaging.
The simple fact is that we need to accept that we don’t need all the things we have (as is indicated by the amount of waste we produce), and moreover, that our having all these things is destroying our planet.
I think that this is really a question of global societal values. Currently, governments spend ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money on non-renewable energy subsidies, the military, the intelligence agencies etc. Most of the public does not find these organizations deserve so much of our energy and money. In fact, in my opinion they are just parasitic bureaucracies that get funding by inciting the public to fear other peoples. Governments should be supporting, “positive rights” such as the right to health care, education, and a healthy environment. These rights actually improve quality of life for everyone, whereas funding the other organizations only allow for the protection of wealth of a small and unjustifiably opulent class of society. These changes will allow for improved rights for people. Additionally, people will begin to see the linkages between their happiness and environmental protection, as they become more educated and less consumed by financial worry.
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