The Ghosts of Our Past

Jake Stricklin, IV Leader Columnist

We live in an ever-changing world. That means we need to adapt to survive. Nothing can be a constant when there are so very many variables on this planet we call Earth. Our environment is begging for us to change, but economics and sustainability do not often collaborate well within our system. Profit and convenience have come before the environment. We need to think about the bigger picture when making choices as a society. We depend on fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow. Fortunately for us, there is a tomorrow and we need to take the steps today to make it the best it can possibly be.

Fossil fuels are all around us. They power our cars, ships, trains, and airplanes. They make our electricity, heat our homes, and make our plastic, medicine, and rubber. Every aspect of our society has been influenced in some way by oil. There are wars being fought and people dying for it. It is the biggest piece of the world economy in which every nation has a stake in. It has made us what we are today, but at what cost? Oil certainly is not a perfect form of energy. One of the biggest problems of oil is looming over us. The supply is limited. The millions of years of heat and pressure it takes to turn organic matter into oil is being depleted in just a few hundred years. We must continue to develop alternatives or we will not have enough energy to continue progress.

Oil is also taking a toll on our environment. The processes used for drilling and transporting can be catastrophic on the local ecosystems. Refineries and chemical plants produce a staggering amount of toxic waste, contaminating the water we drink and the ground we live on. It is not only localized pollution, it’s affecting the entire climate. Carbon dioxide levels are proven to be rising drastically since the industrial revolution. Burning fuel exhausts many byproducts into the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is the biggest one. We are watching climate change happen in a very short time frame. The arctic ice is melting and sea levels are rising. At the current rate, coastal cities like Miami may be flooded within our lifetimes. It is no longer about saving the polar bear, it’s about saving ourselves.

With technological advances, we have ways of harnessing the energy of the earth with little to no environmental impact. While it may not be as cheap or efficient to use sustainable practices in the short-term, we will definitely be grateful we did in the future. We can make electricity with the power of wind, water, sun, and geothermal heat instead of coal. We have alternative fuels like biodiesel, ethanol, and hydrogen powering vehicles. We can use products made with natural alternatives, and recycle as much as possible. We must recognize there is something bigger than ourselves, and support clean energy and green practices. We must remind our lawmakers and businessmen of what is really important here. Every day we can do something that helps the earth. We are not disposable and neither is our home. The ghosts of our past will forever leave their mark on this planet. We must take the proper steps into the future, before it’s too late.