Environmental Enlightenment

Environmental+Enlightenment

Isabella Ambrose, Writer/Designer

With the release of the IPCC report comes news that most people have been afraid of. The IPCC says that humans have “warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land” and “many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia.” Mrs. Merkling, an environmental teacher here at Homestead, says that “numerous global activities such as extraction/refining/burning of fossil fuels, raising our volumes of livestock and use of fertilizers, increased wildfires, and deforestation are all essential to address” when taking into account how we impact the environment. Due to increases in CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, temperatures have increased faster since 1970 than they have in the previous 2000 years. Research has shown that the Earth is expected to see increases in temperature up to 2℃ by the end of the 21st century. Heavily populated areas will not be the only ones affected by climate change. In fact, the IPCC says that “climate change is already affecting every inhabited region across the globe.”

Due to the severity of climate change, it is important that changes to help the environment are made sooner rather than later. Madeline Emenhiser, an executive board member for the environmental club, says that when it comes to how soon the environment should be helped “it is important to note our current state. We are currently in the sixth mass extinction. Due to how severe climate change has become, actions to help save the environment should be taken now.”

As sustainability is starting to become more mainstream, companies have the opportunity to continue to greenwash. In other words, companies market their products as “sustainable” and “good for the environment,” even though the products are not. Ava Baumgartner, a member of the executive board for the environmental club, says that “big companies pollute the air and water with chemicals, plastics, oil, and air pollutants, marketing it to the mass majority of the population as sustainable.”

Who exactly is responsible for the increases in temperature and CO2 emissions, and how can students at Homestead help out? 100 companies, ranging from government owned companies to private ones, contribute 71% of global emissions, but not in the way you may think. These companies, including Shell and Exxon, usually extract oil and sell it to a consumer. The consumer then uses the oil as gas and makes it into CO2. Overconsumption is causing the climate crisis, so limiting consumption would cut back on emissions. By limiting what is consumed, a company has to limit what they sell.

Signing petitions to encourage politicians and companies to lower CO2 emissions is another easy way to help out. Emenhiser says that “some fun ways to help the environment is to carpool with your friends or go thrift shopping together.” Carpooling limits the amount of CO2 released by driving, and thrift shopping produces no new products for a consumer to buy. Additionally, looking into how ethical a company is can prevent a consumer from buying products that are made using unethical practices. And while some people may be assuming they are helping the environment when recycling, Emenhiser says that “recycling allows for companies to produce multiple products and thus profit more. Recycling is important, but reducing and reusing are much better.” Finally, composting can be an easy way to help out. Composting limits the amount of methane gas, which is produced by decomposing food, that is released into the environment. Through these simple actions students here at Homestead can help the environment.