The Economy or the Environment…(an editorial)

I must begin by saying that I am a biology major, and because of this my perspective is a bit biased in the sense that I cannot grasp the notion that climate change isn’t happening. On the other hand, I have begun to realize why people prefer to deny this is occurring. In the most basic sense it comes down to money.

I was raised in a community where the environment was incredibly important. It was full of woods and farmland and creeks, people went hunting and fishing and even were excused from school for it. As a young girl I cannot say I had a passion for the environment because it seemed like something that would always be around, I didn’t know that it was in danger because from my point of view, things seemed beautiful and unchanging. As I grew however, I began to open my eyes to the way the environment was treated. I learned of greenhouse gases, of landfills, and pollution. I knew I cared, I knew I wanted it to change, but I shrugged it off. I was in high school, it wasn’t a big deal, and besides it wasn’t my responsibility. But it wasn’t until college that I learned of things such as carbon sinks, cap and trade, carbon emissions, and the rate at which we are destroying our planet.

Learning these things immediately made me ask, “why are we not actively changing our society to address these dire issues?” It didn’t make sense. Here was all of this cold, hard evidence given my notable climate scientists about our planet, and how this isn’t just a normal warming period, and yet we continue to do nothing. To act as I did in high school and say this isn’t a problem, and even if it was, it isn’t my responsibility.

I took an environmental politics class last term and we discussed in depth something called the anti-regulatory storyline. It became prevalent in environmental policy during the  Nixon administration and propagated throughout the decades. This concept means exactly what it sounds like it means, it is the protection of industry and the economy by refusing to put laws that restrict such things as emissions, into practice. It is the belief in the notion that regulating businesses chokes the economy. From where I sit, it is also the belief that the economy is more important than saving our Earth.

The truth of the matter is this, our economy will not exist if we do not have a healthy planet to live on. I know this way of thinking pushes one to think beyond today or tomorrow or next week or even the next decade, but if we want our children’s children to be able to have an able and healthy economy, they have to have a planet to exist on.

I’m not saying money isn’t important. I’m not saying having a good economy isn’t important, because it is. But it is time it shifts from being our main focus so we can tackle the crisis that is emerging, because as much as we have tried to ignore it, things have already begun to decline. Natural disasters are increasing in both number and intensity, temperatures are rising at a rapid rate, and sea levels are rising.

Many people mistaken believe that I am liberal because I’m lazy or that I want free stuff and I want the government to take care of me. But my own personal reason for my democratic ideals is because I believe that climate change is happening, and is happening right now. I don’t believe that the market and the economy should make the majority of our decisions. I believe global warming is something that needs to have our full attention, and needs to be treated as though it is a crisis. I believe it takes precedence over the anti-regulatory storyline, which is a concept that must be changed. I also believe that regulation does not have to be equivalent to economic stagnation or downfall. We must decide to take action to reduce emissions if we want to have any hope of saving this beautiful planet.

 

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