In 2019, we were given a warning. Bernie Sanders, along with plenty of climate scientists reached out to the world to say that we have “less than 11 years left to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, if we are going to leave this planet healthy and habitable.” We were given a deadline, but people are too frightened of change to seek out the Earth’s best interest. I was taught as a kid about renewable and nonrenewable resources. I have known since I was five years old that one day, we will run out of coal, oil and other non renewables and eventually have to make the switch over to renewable ones. Since the mid 1900’s we have been noticing drastic climate change caused by our hands. We saw a global cooling thanks to post-war aerosol pollutants and the 80s marked our first sharp spike in temperatures. 1988 held the highest summer temperature ever recorded, and since then, it’s only gotten hotter. If this is such an inevitability that we’ve known about it for decades, and are teaching children about it, then why are we waiting so long to make the change? If a green future is such a necessity, we need to do everything in our power to enable individuals to change to an Eco friendly lifestyle. There are two groups of people at fault for this. The first being the greedy corporations that value profits over people, that refuse to start looking at greener alternatives because of costs. The other side lays with the individuals. Those that aren’t putting the planet’s best interest before their own selfish desires.
There’s no doubt that a full switch to green energy is going to be a costly mission, and not just financially. People’s jobs are going to change and companies will go out of business. In an interview with Blue Wave Solar (a company aimed at switching over to solar energy) member, Alex Lawton, he says that “The fossil fuel industry, specifically, is the most profitable industry in the history of mankind.” He continues to say that “it’s going to be the most disruptive and kind of largest transition I think that the economy will ever experience.” While this may explain why it’s taken so long to transition, it most certainly does not justify it. The fact is that money is a societal construct, the planet we live on, is not. Money will change forms and worth as civilizations develop, the Earth will always be the home to species other than us, even after humans are gone, unless we can get our act together. It is our responsibility to view our world as our most precious resource, to not take it for granted, to see that it’s literally the reason everyone is alive.
What does a “green future” even look like? There are two different ways we can go about a greener future. We can try to incorporate environmentally friendly changes into the societal structures that we currently have. Or, we change the way our society functions to adapt to become the most Eco-friendly. If we incorporate environmentalism into our current society, that means we would do things like, lower energy usage, and make the switch to battery powered cars. While these are steps towards a greener future, these methods still produce pollution. If we go with the other route, these would be much bigger changes. These would be changes to entire infrastructure like converting from personal vehicles to all public transportation, and increasing access to bikes and other Eco-friendly means of transportation. Regardless of which option we end up choosing, there are still things we must do now to help speed up the process. People and corporations will need to stop using single-use plastic, individuals should shop at farmers markets more often, take shorter showers or use recycled water and hang dry your clothes instead of drying them. So many things in our lives use energy in one form or another that aren’t Eco friendly. In changing these things, we also need to change our society as a whole to actually become equal. People living in poverty can’t “go green” because they don’t have the resources. They need to save money so they can’t shop at the farmers market, they can’t afford solar panels, they don’t have the time or money to put in the effort even if they wanted to. We need to care about other people within our society so that they have the chance to care about the environment.
While improving your personal carbon footprint is an important step in the right direction and should be encouraged to the entire population, the biggest impact and the most challenging to accomplish will come from forcing big corporations to start using greener forms of production. The worst part is, they’ve convinced us that they are, by using a technique called “green-washing.” In an article from The Link newspaper, author Olivier Cadotte states that “Late-stage capitalist businesses have, of course, found a variety of ways to encourage change from others while not changing any of their own methods of operation. One particularly dangerous way is green-washing. Green-washing is when you advertise your product or brand as being better for the environment than it actually is.”
Our government has to do better. We must raise the standard of living and be able to provide people with a livable minimum wage, the proper information and resources, end food deserts, and subsidize Eco-friendly farms instead of inhumane meat factories that sell dirt cheap meat to McDonalds. We need to think bigger than just building off what we have, we need to use our imaginations and think outside of how our society was built. We must change the foundations of inequality and capitalism, because at the rate we are going, we are going to ruin our home with little hope of restoring it.
Going into the future, we have a big decision to make but it’s time to put our heads together and make it. We’re running out of time, and it starts with us, the consumers. If we demand a greener future, we just might get it.