America is a continuously growing country in many different aspects. America is arguably one of the most influential countries in the world, and it is wrong to underestimate its influence on a global field. And as difficult as it may seem, due to this great influence, we need to amend our actions and goals to convey a positive image to any others who may look up to us. With the issues we have, we need to prioritize them by severity and significance, and hopefully we can also put forth a good example that other countries will want to follow.
One issue that I believe the U.S. neglects and needs to put more focus on is the environment. The environment is a rapidly growing issue that we have long tried to ignore. However, environmental issues are becoming impossible to ignore now. It seems the effects of global warming are already being felt, even though they have not reached the full extent of what we are going to experience in a few years time. A Vox article written by Umair Irfan on the rising of U.S. carbon emissions reported: “U.S. energy-related greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2018 by 3.4 percent, the second-largest margin in 20 years, reversing a three-year decline. It’s an alarming shift, especially given that scientists recently warned that we are running out of time to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.”
There seems to be a feedback loop at play in the way we begin to feel the impacts of climate change and, as a result, contribute more to them. For example, as discussed in Irfan’s article: “2018 started out with unusually cold weather that led to more demand for heating than expected ... High demand for natural gas in the winter raised its price and made burning coal and oil for electricity more competitive in comparison, leading to more emissions from electricity production.”
Furthermore, this rise in emissions results from both spikes in transportation as our population continues to grow, and, more significantly, the industrial sector. Industries such as factories and chemical plants are growing and rapidly becoming the highest contributor of greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide. This is also predicted to become an even more serious problem when the U.S. completely withdraws from the Paris Agreement, which requires countries to report their carbon emissions to the U.N. President Trump has made his desire to withdraw from the agreement known, which will happen in 2020.
The sad and frustrating reality is that we will not see a large impact in greenhouse gas emissions regulations without federal policy and regulation. However, there are growing environmental movements occurring in numerous states across the country, aimed at implementing their own greenhouse gas reduction policies and goals. With these movements on the rise, and more Americans realizing the seriousness of environmental issues, pressure is being put on the president and the government for change.
With all this being said, I want you to finish reading this article knowing that there are many ways to become involved in environmental change in your own free time. You can volunteer with an environmental organization or join a movement online. You can read more about the U.N.’s environmental program on their website, and get involved in their different programs and events, or you can simply make a change in your daily life by limiting your transportation methods (carpooling, walking, etc), or even using less electricity, water, etc.
Most importantly, I encourage you as a reader to educate yourself on these types of issues and join the growing pressure that will one day make the change we so desperately need, hopefully, before it is too late.