info@delawareipl.org (405) 714-7612

Aanya Gupta

Newark Charter

Youth Climate Action

One can imagine the sheer horror of anesthesia wearing off during surgery.

A patient can be undergoing complicated surgery and not feel anything, that is, until the anesthesia abruptly stops working and every move inflicted on the patient is fully perceived, both mentally and physically. In the case that the anesthesia lead to paralysis by numbing, the patients’ longing and efforts to thrash around and gain the doctor’s attention may not be delivered. There is only one way to alert to doctor of the pure pain – the eyes. One simple moment of eye-contact, seeing on an eye-to-eye basis, and maybe the doctor will realize. Desperately looking at the doctor with glossy, pleading eyes, millions of words of request and desperation embedded into one short glance. Praying that the doctor will see the fact that the patient is completely conscious. Please, stop. I can feel everything. Every throbbing stab of your incision, every push and pull you’re impinging onto my being. The doctor goes on, thinking that the patient is unaffected. While the doctor goes on, the patient fights for their sanity, decreasing due to the pain. Can one even imagine the horror of the doctor not adequately meeting the patient’s eyes?

No need to imagine. The doctors are not meeting the patient’s eyes. We are the doctors, and the Earth is the patient. Every second of every day, this patient suffers due to the stress the doctors push onto it. Similar to a real, paralyzed patient, the Earth does not hold the true ability to plead, to scream “STOP,” to draw attention to itself. Similar to the doctors, we continue to live each day, thinking that the Earth is completely unaffected, or at least thinking it can bear our actions without any discomfort.

It’s important to add that this patient is the most substantial, paramount, important patient that mankind has ever tended to. It is the only beauty we have ever truly known and fully experienced. It is the being humankind has

analyzed, experimented with, solved, for nearly 200,000 years. This growing entity consumes nearly eight billion people who have figured out how to live by involving themselves in nomadic wandering, commerce, alliances, battles, wars, famines, pandemics – the list is never-ending. On this planet, humans have learned new languages and cultures, new teaching methods, new measures of innovation, and new scientific findings. This planet simply holds too much history to be destroyed, from the beginning of civilization to this very moment. Apart from this, the Earth is home to seven million species on land and nearly two million species that reside in waters. This includes innumerable mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds that have established food webs and overall balance in their ecosystems. Earth is one of the very few bodies in the solar system which host suitable living conditions, providing us with flora and fauna, with oxygen, with water. It provides for us more than we will ever be able to recognize.

And yet we are letting it fade.

Humans, as beautiful and intelligent as they are, have the tendency to act in their best interest rather than others. It is one of the traits that makes up humans’ identity. We are taught to occasionally be selfish, which comes with both advantages and disadvantages. We mass-produce items in factories to be distributed for the benefit of mankind. We use cars and public transportation to get from place to place for the benefit of mankind. We burn fossil fuels, for energy, for human benefit. That being said, these benefits come with alarming consequences. We continue to mass-produce, thinking it is bearable; however, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, “Nearly 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from industry, including indirect emissions from the sector’s electricity consumption” (par. 1). Earth is not being harmed in just one way, but one of the largest factors of harm comes from the infamous topic of climate change. Slowly warming the earth, climate change increases measures of air pollution, proving injurious to society overall. From an environmental perspective, hotter temperatures are resulting in “the loss of sea ice, melting glaciers and ice sheets, sea level rise, and more intense heat

waves,” according to NASA. Not only this, but also detrimental insect outbreaks, droughts, and heatwaves. When looked at from a medical perspective, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, climate change results in harmful diseases including heart, pest-related, and respiratory diseases. Mental health is significantly impinged by climate change. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, air pollution can also cause “emphysema, asthma, and other respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

Not only is climate change affecting the Earth, but also the people residing in it.

It is also extremely crucial to highlight the severity of discriminatory social disadvantages that stem from climate change and air pollution, including the topic of environmental justice. Environmental justice, to me, means that one should not be discriminated by their environmental surroundings on the basis of their socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or race. Unfortunately, this phenomenon, as unjust as it is, still occurs today. Oftentimes, companies and governments place industries and air-pollution-inducing facilities near the residential areas of minority groups or low-income groups. This, of course, raises additional health concerns for these vulnerable groups. An example of environmental injustice comes from an area in Tennessee, according to an article by Dogwood Alliance. According to the article, the majority of the area’s population is white (95.5%, while the rest is 4.5% Black,) yet the “waste management facility is located next to a mainly Black community – Eno Road. Members of the Holt family, a Black family living on Eno Road in Dickson, drank contaminated water for at least 12 years” (par. 5).

This goes to show the true significance that climate change and air pollution has on underprivileged or marginalized communities.

Now, the question is, what is the solution? The answer is quite simple: today’s youth.

Today’s youth will have the greatest impact on the future. What we achieve today, tomorrow, and in coming years, will be recited in history books that future generations will read and analyze. What a thrilling achievement would it be, to be able to say that today’s youth took whatever little hope was left and helped reverse the fate of the Earth for the better. As explained before, the Earth does not have the ability to advocate for itself, so today’s youth must recognize this, take over, and be Earth’s voice. The first step in countering this deterioration, in reversing the detriment, is to recognize the discrimination against Earth and helping our peers, parents, and even acquaintances recognize the severity of the situation. Not necessarily as a threat or worry-inducing warning, but rather a call-to-action and reality check. We are the future leaders of tomorrow, of next week, of the next generation. It is crucial that we bring attention to this problem. From something as simple as planting trees to getting a law passed/specific legislation focused on environmental alleviations, everything counts. We must encourage our peers and ourselves to take actions and recognize this. The change is in our hands, and the potential is unimaginable. We have powerful minds with new ideas and new concepts. We must put that to use so we can save the one thing we have ever known – Earth.

As mentioned before, Earth is a patient in need, and we are the doctors. Today’s youth should establish a collective effort to lock eyes with the patient, to see, hear, understand what it is asking for. For the help it is asking for, without being able to verbally express it.

SOURCES:

https://www.prb.org/articles/how-many-people-have-ever-lived onearth/#:~:text=Given%20a%20current%20global%20population,actually%20a%20fairly%20large%20percentage.  

Controlling Industrial Greenhouse Gas Emissions

https://www.animalsaroundtheglobe.com/how-many-animals-are-in-the-world/

https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/ https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2469/10-interesting-things-aboutearth/

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/airpollution/index.cfm#:~:text=Respiratory%20Di sease,obstructive%20pulmonary%20disease%20(COPD).

https://www.epa.gov/climateimpacts/climate-change-and-human-health#:~:text=The%20health %20effects%20of%20climate,and%20overall%20poor%20mental%20health.