Author: Danette Berrios, Pima Community College
Does anyone remember seeing the viral video of beloved children’s science TV personality Bill Nye gone explicit? The 37-second clip showcases him putting on safety goggles as he begins to talk about the effect of global emissions on climate change. Suddenly he whips out a blow torch lighting the globe in front of him as he exclaims “What I’m saying is the planet’s on fucking fire” and goes on to say “I didn’t mind teaching you about photosynthesis when you were 12 but you’re adults now and this is an actual crisis”. Who is he so fed up with and aiming these shots fired? The campaign was speculated to be targeting politicians who oppose the Green New Deal, a bold and ambitious climate proposal. However, every single one of us can have an impact on reducing our carbon footprint. We all definitely contribute to the rapidly increasing emissions and should therefore feel responsible for fighting to offset them! It is imperative that we start to take action by sustainable ways of living like shifting to a more plant-based less meat/dairy-based diet, actively advocating for green politicians, and investing in renewable energy.
It’s very easy to overlook the impact our next meal will have on how the earth’s temperature is on the rise, however, being exposed to individual accountability helps in making more conscientious decisions not only for the health of our only planet but also our only body. Animal agriculture is the main driver of global warming due to the naturally occurring gas, methane from manure and fertilizer which is 30 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100 year period than carbon dioxide is (Rayner 1). It’s pretty scary to put into perspective how much more harmful cows pooping in massive quantities can be over the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. In addition to emitting about 4 pounds of greenhouse gases, a quarter-pound hamburger requires 460 gallons of water and 64.5 square feet of land- both used in part to feed the cows who are being slaughtered for their meat to make the burger (Duram). This land alone could alternatively be used to grow crops for human consumption at a fraction of the amount of water needed and harmful gases released to the atmosphere. The notion that meat is our primary source of essential nutrients is really just a misconception carried on for way too long. If anything, the consumption of animals has been the leading cause of diseases ranging from viruses transmitted to humans like covid/swine flu to America’s top killers; cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Another way to take action at an individual level is to support the advocates who want to implement environmentally friendly policies. Now is the time to stand up for the planet against money-hungry politicians who prioritize monetary growth over investing in a sustainable future. We’re witnessing first-hand the natural disasters that we’ve been fueling for years that are leading to the displacement and extinction of a growing number of animal and plant species. Something as simple as a state ban on single-use plastic bags can make a huge impact to condition us to finally remember to bring the reusable ones. Representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey have publicly proposed a Green New Deal which outlines the framework of where goals should be directed in the coming future to achieve at least a carbon-neutral state. Some of these include “upgrading all existing buildings in the country for energy efficiency, working with farmers to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (while supporting family farms and promoting universal access to healthy food), overhauling transportation systems to reduce emissions — including expanding electric car manufacturing, building charging stations everywhere” (Kurtzleben). Although some think it’s unfeasible due to the potential cost, the likelihood of us continuing much longer the way we are without costing more in damage reparations is slim to none. Furthermore, what’s the point of making all of these advancements in the sustainability field if they are just being ignored at mass and by big corporations that desperately need to implement them. By far the biggest step that needs to be taken is investing in renewable energy. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, in 2020, renewable energy sources accounted for only about 12.6% of total energy sourced where fossil fuels still accounted for 79% between petroleum, natural gas, and coal (EIA Tables 1.3 and 2.1-2.6). Infrastructure needs to be redeveloped to shift off of its reliance on fossil fuels which is going to take some heavy funding however doing so will also create millions of jobs in the green industry.
The earth has made many sacrifices to be home to billions of animals and humans having offered nourishment, beauty, and all kinds of resources to us in a plentiful quantity. It is selfish of humankind to be aware of the extreme depletion of these resources to our only home and not want to really do something about it. No difference is too small if enough people begin to be more self aware of their carbon footprint. Whether it is implementing a meatless monday or investing in solar panels in a home there is a lot of work to be done and sacrifices to me made on our part for Mother Earth.
“How a Meaty Diet Destroys the Planet.” Good Medicine, vol. 30, no. 3, Summer 2021, pp. 6–10. EBSCOhost
Kurtzleben, Danielle. “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Releases Green New Deal Outline.” NPR, NPR, 7 Feb. 2019, www.npr.org/2019/02/07/691997301/rep-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-releases-green-new-deal-outline.
U.S. Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2020. www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/flow/total_energy_2020.pdf.