To start off, since I didn’t give much of an intro on the last post, haha While I am working on some ideas that are not ready yet, I would like to post some things I have written in the past. Most of these first few posts will all be papers I wrote in my college English courses at Germanna Community College. I am proud to say, I might add, that I received no lower than a B+ on all of these. 🙂
So here goes,this next one I’m posting is all about America’s roll in preserving the environment. My article talks about how America needs to do a better job at reducing its carbon footprint and resolving other environmental issues the U.S. has helped cause. I outline a few of the problems the U.S. has helped cause as well as other countries roll in trying to reverse these problems. That’s enough of an intro though, might as well let you read it for yourself, so here goes, America and the Environment
*you will find my list of references at the end of the article
America and the Environment
In America we always strive to do our best. Unfortunately we’re fallen behind in preserving the environment, something many of our fellow countries have not. America may only have “5% of the world’s population” but it is the cause of “more than 35%” of the world’s greenhouse gases (2). The U.S.’s refusal, under the Bush Administration, to sign a very important document, called the Kyoto Protocol, has set us behind many countries, such as Russia, Canada, and England. The Kyoto Protocol was set in 1997 to regulate greenhouse gasses from industries and factories. Although enough countries have joined to ratify the agreement it’s still lacking the signature of the biggest producer of greenhouse gases, the USA (Bates, par. 4).
While the United States has become more aware of the environmental problems and issues its helped cause, the U.S. still has a long way to go in order to reduce its carbon footprint and help preserve the earth for future generations.
Many people would think that the U.S. is doing a better job these days in preserving the environment, but unfortunately while the people might be doing better, the government itself has been lacking in its regulations of factories and industries. By letting businesses and factories choose whether or not to limit their emissions, the government is standing by and letting pollution happen. It’s not just the people’s duty, but the government’s as well to preserve this planet we live on, because, so far, it’s the only one we have. By refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S. “allowed its overall greenhouse gas emissions to rise by more than 15% between 1990 and 2004” (2). This is unacceptable if we want the planet habitable for our children’s children. As one of the world’s most powerful countries we should be setting a good example for developing countries, who are exempt from the protocol and still producing vast amounts of pollutants every day.
Not only should we preserve the earth for our futures, but also for the beautiful views, magnificent mountains, vast oceans, and the wide variety of flora and fauna that reside on this amazing planet. Although America has been neglecting to regulate its greenhouse gas release, its people have been taking matters into their own hands. Many concerned mothers now recycle and reuse products, as well as purchase only recycled goods, and organic foods that don’t contain pesticides or other harmful chemicals and steroids. Also many Americans have been switching to electric or at the very least, more fuel efficient cars. Still more Americans are doing their part by not using plastic bottles, as well as getting newspapers and bills electronically instead of wasting paper resources. The general public are not the only one coming up with ways to be environmentally conscious, new rules have been put in place to subject factory farms to” waste-runoff regulations” (1). Large factory farms all have to find a healthy way to dispose of animal wastes to as not to contaminate rivers, lakes or well water. This helps tremendously in keeping the fish and wildlife population healthy, as well as the human population living near the farms.
In the last fifty years the U.S. has been harder on the environment than most countries, with the exception of developing countries such as China and India, therefore it’s as much America’s job to clean it up as anyone else’s. Many positives come from cleaning up environmentally though, recycling, for one, has created many jobs for Americans in recent years. Not only are we putting jobs back in America, but we’re also paving a way to a brighter, healthier future. Recycling also cuts the cost of processing raw materials, mining and deforestation, not only saving the environment but also saving the country money (4). In recent years the U.S. and its citizens have been recycling more than ever, saving billions of trees and acres of untouched, unspoiled land. This along with tree farms, trees grown specifically for paper production, have made it so that the “timber supply is three times larger now than it was in 1920” (4). Recycling combined with conservationist groups’ plans for rebuilding habitats and rehabilitating wildlife are saving our country’s unique geography and preserving its animals and landscape now more than ever before.
America has come a long way in preserving the environment in recent years. The advance of science and our understanding of climate and weather has opened the U.S.’s eyes to the importance of taking care of our country as well as the world. Even parents are taking action by informing their children about the importance of recycling and not littering, as well as preserving forests and reducing society’s carbon footprint. Studies have shown that “teaching ecological principles to children” really makes a difference in our worlds’ “future quality of life” (Bates, par. 1). If each generation gets better and better, eventually we will have a much cleaner country and a safer world to live in.
Another thing civil rights activists and other public officials have been looking into is environmental justice. Environmental Justice is “ensuring that all citizens… are equally protected from the negative effects of environmental damage caused by environmentally hazardous facilities” (1). This includes all people regardless of income, race, or religion. Environmental Justice, if regulations are set, will make sure that everyone is aware if a toxic pollutant will affect them where they live as well as where they shop or even vacation. It also will ensure that people who can’t afford to move will be protected one way or another from harmful toxins. Finding better ways of disposing of waste and regulating the release of harmful chemicals during production are just a couple of the ways the government is working to protect its citizens. In the near future communities as well as town and county officials will work with the government to compromise on what to do about Environmental Justice. Hopefully, if “interested parties can overcome their differences”, the United States will be taking another big step towards making the world a little healthier (6).
Not everyone sees being environmentally friendly as beneficial. People tend to ignore the health risks for personal gain and an easier way of doing things. The United States refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol under the Bush administration because he called it “an unsound international treaty” (4). The main reason for not signing: the Protocol sets unfair standards for wealthy nations and is rejected by the world’s leading polluters, China and India. “Backers [even] warn that U.S. compliance with the agreement would be detrimental to the nation’s economic interests”, citing that it would cost huge amounts of money to regulate the way chemicals are released into the atmosphere (4). Money seems to be the biggest issue when it comes to helping the environment. Recycling facilities may mean more jobs for America, but that must also be weighed against the cost for training and paying these workers. While many people are recycling, facilities for recycling cost a lot of money, as well as the trucks that haul off recyclables. Trucks also have to take more trips because recycled waste cannot be compacted like regular trash removal. Trucks making more, trips in the long run, means wasting more precious fuel. Besides the cost, recycling still has its own problems, such as what to do with the chemicals that are used in breaking down and recycling products. Many of the chemicals used in recycling are toxic to humans and require their own treatments to take care of them, something which is also expensive (3).
Besides the cost from a government viewpoint, it gets a little expensive for the average Joe to be environmentally conscious. Electric and fuel efficient cars are wonderful for the environment but not for an American’s wallet, many of these cars can cost upwards of $50,000. Likewise fees for picking up and dropping off recyclables in some states are too steep for some households, turning many American’s away from recycling. Also buying organic foods and recycled products can get expensive, many retailers set the prices higher just so environmentally conscious people will spend more. Unfortunately while this may work on some people, many people just can’t afford it. Aside from the expense of taking care of our planet many people are just plain lazy. Littering is still a big issue all over the U.S., even some people who can afford to recycle, either don’t, or do equally as negative things, like throwing trash out car windows. While some people have accepted that environmental clean-up needs to be done, many people still blatantly don’t care.
The road to preserving our planet is a long one that still has far to go. Soon, with the implication of Environmental Justice as well as long-time coming regulations for greenhouse gas emissions, the United States will be taking a huge step towards making the world a better place. People are becoming more aware everyday of the impact we have on this wonderful planet and what to do limit our carbon footprints. Recycling, educating children, and not littering are just a few of the ways American’s can help. Gradually we will be able to not only preserve this planet, but also fix what we’ve destroyed. America is more conscious than ever of what’s going on environmentally in the world and seems to be ready to take the next step to ensure that our grandchildren will have a beautiful and safe world to live in.
Bates, Patty. “Protecting Our Children by Preserving the Environment- 10 Basic Issues.”Ezine
Articles. 2 Dec. 2007. Web.
“The Environmental Impact of Factory Farms.” Facts on File News Services. 2003. 31 Jan. 2003.
“Environmental Justice.” Editorial. Facts on File News Services. 2008. 5 May. 2008.
“Recycling.” Editorial. Facts on File News Services. 2004. 23 Aug. 2004.
“Update: Global Warming.” Editorial. Facts on File News Services. 2009. 12 Oct. 2009.