Editorial: Stricter environmental laws needed to combat climate change


Geraldine Marie

Stricter environmental laws should be implemented in order to preserve the earth.

Bloated beached whales, suffocating black smog and plastic-littered streets are most often associated with nightmarish societies. Yet this is the reality that is unfolding in today’s America.

Following President Donald Trump’s 2017 withdrawal from the Paris Climate Deal, an agreement made among approximately 200 countries to reduce carbon emissions, the general public has faced an ever-increasing series of natural disasters. An increase of global surface temperatures as well as warmer ocean and atmosphere temperatures caused by carbon emissions are catalysts for stronger, elongated storms, as stated by the United States Geological Survey. From the California wildfires in 2018 to the hurricanes hitting the Southeast and floods in Missouri, it feels like the end of the world is right around the corner.

As of 2018, the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions increased by approximately 3.4 percent, making it the largest jump in eight years, according to a study published by Rhodium Group. This same study revealed that the U.S. remains the greatest polluter since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1820s, expelling an annual 5,414 metric tons of CO2, or 15 percent of greenhouse gasses emitted globally, through transportation, buildings and industry alone.

Its widespread effects range from ocean acidification, which will eventually lead to the extinction of many forms of marine life and heat waves, which are to blame for sweltering summers that seem to only be getting hotter. In 2016 alone, countries like the United States and India felt unbearably hot temperatures which killed portions of the Great Barrier Reef and even revived rare, lethal diseases in countries like Syria.

We believe that some of the most simple, straightforward solutions to curbing any further progression of pollution are enforcing laws that prevent corporations from relying solely upon fossil fuels or single-use plastics in the manufacturing process. Additionally, implementing Energy Democracy, a practice that aims to replace fossil-fueled electricity with sustainable solar, geothermal and wind power, throughout American cities may also be in the best interests of the government.

Though it may be argued that several corporations with global influence like Google, Dell and Apple have already done their part by switching to renewable energy, few businesses in the food industry have dared to take similar actions. A 2010 study conducted by the Kohala Center revealed that transportation alone accounts for nearly 18 percent of the embodied carbon emissions of vegetables. Without enforcing laws that limit corporations’ abilities to transport goods with vehicles that run off of fossil fuels, restoring the planet will be impossible. According to the same study, specialty stores, restaurants and supermarkets are among one of the largest emitters of CO2, as the majority of products must either be flown in or imported from other states or even countries.

We feel as though immediate government intervention is necessary. Strict laws severely cutting corporations’ annual CO2 emissions to half their current rate, replacing gasoline with inexpensive, sustainable alternatives and heavily taxing oil-drilling companies are all a good start. Without said inference, pollution will skyrocket, resulting in an uninhabitable planet with limited resources instead of the comfortable consumer-driven one Americans have become so accustomed to living in.