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The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

Climate Change

Photo courtesy of The New York Times
Photo courtesy of The New York Times

In the words of Bo Burnham, “The world is changing. The planet’s heating up. What the fuck is going on?” 

Our world is unraveling at the seams. Wildfires are eviscerating entire ecosystems and poisoning the air even hundreds of miles away. Hurricanes are becoming more intense and frequent. The ice caps are melting. Our entire world is crumbling and burning and yet we still have people trying to say, “This is fine.”

People are literally choking on the evidence that climate change is real and somehow we still have a hoard of neanderthals proclaiming that it is a hoax. But why is that? We are the richest and most powerful country in the world yet somehow people will continue to argue against basic science. 

The answer is remarkably simple, they are uneducated or they simply don’t care.

I’m not rocking the boat when I say that Americans are uneducated compared to other countries. For a country with the largest economy on the entire planet, our education system is absolutely garbage. We have lower literacy rates than most of the developed world, and according to Pew Research Center, America is significantly behind most developed nations in science and mathematics.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise that American citizens have been so eager to deny climate change despite 99% of studies agreeing that climate change is real and is the fault of humans. Don’t get it twisted, though, the people in power already know Americans are not educated because they know their votes rely on people being misinformed. 

Why else would they deny climate change despite a near-universal consensus? Why else would the Republican party propose to reduce the budget for the Department of Education by 15%? Why else would Fox News still peddle these climate denial stories over and over again on air despite Rupert Murdoch knowing that we’ve been in a climate crisis since 2006? Why else would our government bend to oil companies when renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels?

The answer is painfully simple, they don’t care about anything but their own wallets and their freedom to do whatever they want regardless of the consequences.

Shifting to renewable energy certainly has its downsides, especially with how windmills and hydroelectric plants can affect certain ecosystems along with the carbon footprint that is left from producing solar panels. Regardless, these options are certainly better than flooding and displacing 40% of the world’s population while grilling the rest like eggs in a pan.

Yes, windmills kill birds and bats, require a ton of land, and make weird sounds. Yes, hydroelectric plants can negatively affect local ecosystems by disrupting local habitats. Yes, producing solar panels leaves a significant carbon footprint and are made using exploitative labor. Yes, there will be downsides to nearly every form of energy production but the alternative is quite literally the end of human civilization. 

You might say that renewable energy is simply not efficient enough to sustain our increasingly demanding power grid but that is simply not true. A study from the Royal Chemistry Society shows that we can feasibly sustain our entire power grid using renewable energy by the year 2050 and over 80% by 2030.

Regardless of climate change, the energy resources that we have are finite and it’s silly not to take any precautions so that we won’t be screwed over once we eventually run out of those resources.

Beyond that, solar energy is actually cheaper than natural gas for consumers. That’s right, if you started using solar energy, you would save one-third of what you would have spent using fossil fuel. So if solar is overall cheaper for Americans, why isn’t it in the hands of more people?

It’s because solar energy is less profitable for companies (I know shocker). It’s cheaper for us but it doesn’t line the pockets of energy companies because they are producing and selling less. So despite solar being a net positive for the American people, we now have selfishly short-sighted people in power who fight tooth and nail against it because they know they won’t get that big oil campaign money otherwise.

Moving to renewable energy also would drastically help us move away from depending on oil from other countries, making us more economically independent. 

The worst part of the actions of energy companies and corporations is how they have tried to place the onus on us for climate change. We hear all day that people need to do their part to fight climate change but that will do almost nothing. Know why? Because just a mere 100 companies are responsible for 70% of our greenhouse gas emissions. 

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be environmentally conscious, but it’s wrong (and frankly, disgusting) how we are blamed for climate change when it’s largely the fault of greedy corporations who are more shortsighted than Velma without her glasses. Yes, we still buy from those companies but the average American is not given another option. I hate to say it, but there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. 

I realize that makes this situation seem hopeless and defeatist, but it shows that we need to be more conscious every day of how our actions affect the environment because if the people in power won’t do anything, then we have to even though it’s not our fault and shouldn’t be our responsibility. Until corporations and politicians are forced to change, the state of our planet will not improve but until that point, all we can do is try to do our part with the limited resources we have to at least somewhat prevent mass extinction.

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