Our rapidly growing population has brought the planet to a crisis point. We must be conscious of our impact on the environment. While many people understand the importance of respecting the planet, few of us feel empowered to make any kind of change.
Taleah Hogan, a freshman at Mizzou, believes the environment in its current state is “pretty dirty, but beautiful.”
“Climate change is probably the biggest issue right now,” Hogan said. “It could end the whole world.”
Hogan recognizes the importance of respecting our environment and conserving our planet’s natural resources. While she would certainly take steps to reduce her carbon footprint with the right information, Hogan doesn’t know what she can do other than recycle and be aware.
“It’s kind of a hard problem to fix; everybody in the world would have to be on deck with It,” Hogan said.
However, she is frightened by the outcome if things keep going the way they are.
“Because I live on Earth, I have to suffer the consequences of everybody else’s actions,” she said.
Most of us will feel the negative impacts of climate change in our lifetime because it is a problem that affects everybody on Earth.
MU Sustainability Manager, Srinivasan “Raghu” Raghavan is abundantly aware of the issues around MU that need improving. Raghavan oversees the sustainability office and is tasked with collecting data across the campus.
“The recycling rate is abysmal,” he said.
According to a recent STARS sustainability report, the recycling rate was around 20 percent. This means only 20 percent of waste that should be recycled is actually recycled. This can be disheartening, especially for people who care about the environment.
Raghavan sees this as a “self-destructive way of behaving — the price might end up being heavy.”
MU has a large campus and it is up to the sustainability office to make sure everybody is on the same page. Raghavan ensures that campus departments are aware of the various efforts and resources available.
Recent efforts of the sustainability office include the farmer’s market in Lowry Mall, as well as the Bikeshare system offered through the student center.
Along with apathy, Raghavan blames much of our environmental problems on consumer culture. We want more and better things every day. Despite the fact that it goes against what we know is right economically, socially, and environmentally.
With recent budget cuts, the sustainability office has been doing its best to guarantee progress. There are many ways students can help through: peer education, talking to professors, getting involved with environmentally concerned groups or volunteering at the sustainability office.
People may believe their individual actions will make no lasting impact in the grand scheme of things. Because of this, our shared environment is becoming so polluted that it threatens not only quality of life, but life itself.
We have a tendency to not recognize problems until they are nearly unmanageable. We aren’t constantly aware of the air we are breathing, so it’s difficult to notice when the air gradually becomes deadly.
Research done by the World Health Organization has found that globally, 3 million deaths (one in every nine deaths on the planet) were attributable to ambient air pollution (AAP) in 2012. About 87 percent of these deaths occur in LMICs (Low or Middle Income Countries) which represent 82 percent of the world population. The air we breathe is becoming toxic due to the various pollutants emitted by humanity.
There is no easy solution to this massive problem that has developed over the last hundreds of years, but it is not too late. The time we have to create change is running low. Entire species are becoming extinct as each second passes.
It is past time for us to become more conscious and less apathetic. Our environment is a shared resource that we cannot be without.
U.S. citizens are often under the impression that policy changes are the only way to curve the levels of pollution emissions. Although permanent societal changes will benefit our planet in the long-run it starts at the individual level.
Everyone is a citizen of Earth and can take steps to decrease their carbon footprint.