There have been vicious debates in the media recently regarding the sustainability of our environment. It has been said that us humans are not treating the Earth as kindly as it has treated us. We have been taught for decades to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but yet most individuals do not follow these golden rules. Sure, some may abide by the rules for a week or two, but then most are back to their same old awful habits. The depletion of natural resources, the overwhelming air/water pollution, and the destruction of various ecosystems prove that our country needs to focus on environmental sustainability.
If we do not begin to focus on environmental sustainability, there is no saying how much longer the Earth will continue to thrive. Most people are aware of how wasteful our nation is. Many would argue that America is one of the most wasteful nations in the whole world. We abuse and neglect our environment day after day, and year after year. As a nation, we have made it a habit to overuse and waste any available resources that we are given. Each American disposes of sixty four tons of waste during their life time, on average (Blumberg and Gottlieb 1989). Littering and improper disposal of items have become habits for most of us.
As a society, we should not have to be begged to help sustain our environment. Environmental sustainability should be a top priority for everyone in the country; leaders, celebrities, and even everyday joes. One of the largest issues our environment currently faces is the rapid depletion of natural resources. Some of these resources are renewable, while others are non-renewable. Those that are non-renewable cannot be replenished in any way; once they are gone, they are gone forever. Many of these resources provide us with food, water, and shelter. Americas are overusing and abusing the resources that seem limitless for us. Billions of gallons of gas are used each year to run our automobiles and heat our homes.
Leaving the car on idle or leaving the door open for a few seconds during the winter seems like second nature, but we are simply wasting. Wars over oil and gasoline are constant reminders of the importance of 2these non-renewable resources. We are even running out of fresh water. Something that we waste every day and even bottle to drink is becoming depleted. It is expected that the world's fresh water supply will be gone by the end of this century (Bohannon 2008). These resources are valuable, yet we act as if they are disposable. Without water, we cannot live, yet this matter is still swept under the rug by all of society; we cannot wait much longer. Nowhere in America is safe from waste.
Many cities experience foul smells from litter, the sight of cigarette butts strewn in the streets, and various snack wrappers thrown carelessly on sidewalks. This may seem like sheer laziness, but the extreme waste is becoming more than that. The littered pieces of waste are causing disease due to contamination of the air and the land it settles on (Hunter et al. 2003). Garbage flies through the air, lands on the ground, contaminates the ground, gets carried in the wind, contaminates the air, and then enters our lungs, ultimately contaminating our bodies. This may seem like a complex process that feels far-fetched, but truthfully, this all happens more often than most would like to admit. This contamination can become even more wide-spread in large cities where food and beverage vendors are seen in the streets. If the air gets contaminated, then all of the food and beverages exposed to the air get contaminated too.
Once the substances enter our body, the contamination is free to run rampant. There is the possibility of hundreds, even thousands, of people getting ill due to one person's unwillingness to walk ten feet to a waste basket. The topic of climate change and global warming has been in the media a lot, but most do not realize that global warming is due to pollution. Global warming is due to something called a greenhouse effect, which is the result of pollutants and carbon dioxide becoming trapped between the atmosphere and heat of the sun (Taylor and Penner 1994). As the heat continues to get trapped, it will eventually cause the Earth to get warmer. When the global warming sets in, the entire Earth will change: ecosystems will drastically change or perish, mass flooding will take place in coastal regions, and various other negative effects are likely (Taylor and Penner 1994). The selfish actions of careless individuals will ultimately cause the downfall of the entire world. Climate change is no longer a debatable issue: it is happening. Rather than just sitting back and letting it take over, we, as a society, should do what we can to control the situation.
As if ruining the lives of billions of people was not enough, Americans are also destroying the ecosystems of countless species. Here in America, there are approximately 100,000 acres of forests bulldozed annually (Bonan 1999). Forests are removed for various profitable activities: the production of timber, agricultural clearance, commercial clearance, and just pure fun. When this deforestation happens, the destruction of so many forest animals are also. Just one species being taken out of an ecosystem has the possibility of destroying the entire food chain and therefore, the entire ecosystem. The drastic water pollution that Americans cause is also destroying ecosystems. Mass amounts of pollutants in our waterways are causing hundreds of species to die off each and every year (Lovett et al. 2009).
All of the negative habits we have created are destroying are society by causing mass illness and even becoming the cause of mass inflation. The depletion of natural resources, the overwhelming air/water pollution, and the destruction of various ecosystems prove that our country needs to focus on environmental sustainability. The issue of sustainability is very relevant is a matter of pressing importance. It is understandable for individuals to not analyze the negative effects that these wasteful habits are having on the environment, but they are becoming more and more obvious as the years go by. Not everyone is going to choose to live a 'green' life, but every bit of help counts. The Earth has provided us with endless help, yet we continue to take without giving. Let us help the Earth help us.
- Blumberg, Louis, and Robert Gottlieb. War On Waste. 1st ed. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1989. Print.
- Bohannon, John. 'Running Out Of Water—And Time'. Science Magazine's State of the Planet 2008-2009: with a Special Section on Energy and Sustainability (2008): 82. Print.
- Bonan, Gordon B. 'Frost Followed The Plow: Impacts Of Deforestation On The Climate Of The United States'. Ecological Applications 9.4 (1999): 1305--1315. Print.
- Hunter, Paul R et al. 'The Prevalence Of Self-Reported Symptoms Of Respiratory Disease And Community Belief About The Severity Of Pollution From Various Sources'. International Journal of Environmental Health Research 13.3 (2003): 227--238. Print.
- Lovett, Gary M. et al. 'Effects Of Air Pollution On Ecosystems And Biological Diversity In The Eastern United States'. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1162.1 (2009): 99 135. Print.
- Taylor, KE, and Joyce E Penner. 'Response Of The Climate System To Atmospheric Aerosols And Greenhouse Gases'. Nature Publishing Group (1994): n. pag. Print.