Climate consideration

Greta Markey, Managing Editor of Print Content

I grew up in an environmentally conscious home. In middle school, instead of following the “Twilight” sagas, I would stay up late and watch documentaries about fracking and garbage island with my mom. I learned from a young age that many human activities have a major impact on our natural world; however, it turns out that this is not entirely common knowledge.

Based on the Yale Climate Opinions Maps, in Cook County, Ill. only 63 percent of adults believe that climate change is mostly caused by human activities, a statistic that is 10 percent higher than the national average of 53 percent. This means that almost half of the adults living in our country do not believe that their actions have any large effect on the world around them. They don’t believe that the two degree global temperature increase since the Industrial Revolution was caused by an anthropological increase of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Even scarier, in the same study of over 100 million citizens, 30 percent don’t believe that climate change exists at all. Misinformation like this is dangerous to the treatment of our planet and allows both industries and governments to take advantage of their citizens and promote their own agendas.

Modern hydraulic fracking is a prime example of this development. When oil wells in Texas began to dry up, instead of searching for a more sustainable or renewable source of fuel, oil and natural-gas drillers discovered that they could drill into shale rock and fracture it with pressurized fluids to release the oil and gas they needed. Before long, oil producers were using this technique all over the country and drilling up major profits.

These profits were not only going into the pockets of the oil industries, but also the pockets of government officials; a 2013 Huffington Post article revealed that from 2004 to 2012, contributions from fracking companies to congressional candidates of states and districts where fracking occurred increased from $2.1 million to $6.9 million. Both the government and the industry benefitted from a practice that was later shown to have increased the radon levels in the homes of areas near fracking by nearly 40 percent and contaminated the drinking water of millions of Americans.

But what happened when people found out about fracking’s dangerous effects? They fought back. Once educated and informed with facts, citizens began to protest this environmentally draining and harmful practice. And they won– sort of. From 2013 to 2016, the rate of production of crude oil in the United States began to slow as more and more people argued for cleaner, more sustainable sources of fuel; however, fracking is still on the rise.

Today, we see that the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also a self-proclaimed “advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” and that our commander-in-chief has dismissed climate change as a “hoax.”

What can we do to help our environment when our country is being led by people who disregard climate change? We can stay informed. We can lead by example. We can refuse to be swayed by the opinions of the people we see on TV who tell us that big business is more important than the health of our planet.

And we can believe. Believe that while many human practices are harmful to the environment, there are also many resilient people who are working to reverse these effects. Believe that the smallest act of conservation, like picking up a piece of trash from the ground on the way from your car to LT, is doing something to help. Believe that climate change is real, and believe that you can make a difference, because the two most dangerous threats to a society are misinformation and loss of hope.