When I was a child, maybe 8 or 9, I distinctly remember going shopping for an Easter dress with my dad. I tried on dress after dress, having more fun playing dress up and spending time with my father than actually finding a dress. As I was looking through isles, I remember seeing the most beautiful dress I’d ever laid eyes on out of the corner of my eye. I ran to it, found my size, and darted to the fitting room calling for my dad to follow me to see how pretty his baby girl was going to look. I carefully unzipped the dress and maneuvered my way through the layers and layers of tool until my head popped out the top. Taking one last look in the mirror before leaving the room to show my dad, I saw myself in a pale green gown with emerald green sparkling embroidery covering the dress. When I stepped out, my dad immediately told me to get it. I told him it was expensive and that I just wanted to try it on, but he refused the idea of hanging it back on the rack.
A couple weeks later, on Easter morning, I put on my puffy green dress and my white open-toed shoes and stepped out to the living room. When my mother saw me, she gawked at how beautiful I was, but not without handing me a jacket to wear over my sleeveless gown. Immediately I cried out “No mom! I don’t want to wear a jacket! I want everyone to see my dress!” To which she tried to comfort me with the idea that I would only have to wear it when outside, and that everyone at church would still see my stunning outfit. This was no consolation to me however; I still refused to wear the jacket. So like all good parents do at some point, she let me freeze. The entire car ride I asked for the heat to be turned up, and the entire family would just look at me and in unison say “You should have worn a jacket.”
Last year on Easter it was 68 degrees and sunny.
In that same school year, I often had a substitute teacher who, at the time, I considered to be a real hippie. One day, she took us in to the bathroom and taught us how to properly wash our hands by only using 1 paper towel. She informed us of how rapidly trees were being cut down, and how the Earth’s temperature had been rising. But seeing as how we were in second grade and lived in East Tennessee completely surrounded by mountains covered in trees, we didn’t take to it too well.
But I supposed what she meant to do was successful because even today, when I wash my hands and there is no air dryer, I only use 1 paper towel.
13,000,000,000 lbs of paper towels are used by Americans every year. However, if everyone only used 1 paper towel per day, the population could save 571,230,000 lbs per year (Smith). That means we could save 4,855,455 trees per year on paper towels alone. Not to mention the millions of gallons of water used in paper milling.
From 1880 to 2012 the Earth’s temperature rose 1.53 degrees. This may not sound significant, because the temperature locally (especially where I’m from) can go from 50 degrees to 85 in the time it takes you to eat lunch. But for the entire Earth to rise those temperatures is extreme cause for concern. The difference of 5 degrees turned the entire planet into a snow cone 20,000 years ago (Carlowicz). Think of it like your body temperature. If you get below 94 degrees, you are at risk of death, and similar to if you get above 104. Yet, at 98.5 degrees, you are as happy as a clam. That’s only the difference of around 5 degrees in either direction.
Each year, 1.3 million gallons of oil are spilled into U.S. waters alone. Between 1971 and 2000 there were more than 250,000 oil spills identified by the U.S. Coast Guard. These spills kill wild life, damage our water, and cost thousands of millions of dollars (Thompson).
And these are only three small figures of the other elements of our environment that are under attack.
So how do we keep these things from happening? Why don’t we make an organization completely dedicated to the bettering of the Earth’s and human’s health?
We did. It’s called the Environmental Protection Agency.
And the government is trying to shut it down.
Here is the exact list of what the EPA does from their website:
- all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
- national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
- federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
- environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
- all parts of society — communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments — have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
- environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
- the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.
And even with this agency that was founded in 1970, our environmental problems continue to grow. So imagine getting rid of it entirely. The current President of the United States referred to Climate Change as a “hoax” invented by the Chinese… (CNN, Merica/Marsh 2017)
There once was this story told by a famous children’s author about a beautiful land full of life and color that got torn down, destroyed and deserted so that the rich could get richer. We are currently living in that world. Open your eyes before we have to start buying air from the people that wouldn’t help keep it clean. And try using only 1 paper towel.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -Dr. Seuss
Smith, Joe. “How to use a paper towel.” Joe Smith: How to use a paper towel | TED Talk | TED.com. N.p., Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
“Weather Almanac for KRZR – March, 2005.” Weather History for Cleveland Rgnl Jetp, Cleveland, TN | Weather Underground. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Carlowicz, Michael. “Global Temperatures.” NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Thompson, Andrea. “FAQ: The Science and History of Oil Spills.” LiveScience. Purch, 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
“Our Mission and What We Do.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Adler, Ben. “Why is Trump so fixated on abolishing the EPA?” Grist. N.p., 08 June 2016. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Merica, Dan, and Rene Marsh. “Trump’s EPA pick: Human impact on climate change needs more debate.” CNN. Cable News Network, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.