(302) 703-7086

Kiersten Dill

Lake Forest HS, 9th grade

Global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system and threatening lives and livelihoods around the world. We have a once-in-a generation opportunity – through the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to ensure a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for all. The Paris agreement has commitments from all countries to reduce their emissions and work together to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and calls on countries to strengthen their commitments over time.

Some ways for you and other people to help is, first of all, clean your environment. If everyone commits to their community we can clean up the earth. Everyone and everything gets affected by contaminated things. Whether it is soil, water, or air. You may be asking, how do things get contaminated? Many reasons lead to this. Improperly discarded garbage is a big part of it, if not the full reason. Use what you need of the product, then make sure to dispose of it properly, and while doing so, make sure to educate the people around you to do the same. Every year people throw out 2 billion tons of trash. Think about that. Way too much for our environment to handle correctly. About a third of that causes environmental harms, from choking water supplies to poisoning soil. A way that everyone can participate is to not throw away food that could easily be repaired for something different. For example brown bananas are often used to make banana bread, and if you don’t like banana bread, or if you made too much, give it to someone. Whether it is someone you know like a neighbor, or a complete stranger. It is also a great, easy way to make someone’s day! 

A way for the youth to contribute to helping climate change is when we are old enough for houses, we should start using the environment to power our homes. It is a much safer way to get different resources in your home, because instead of destroying our environment to make other things that create energy, we are using the resources given to us from the environment already. A way adults could help with the youth is to start teaching this type of thing in school. Especially now before it gets too far to the point we can’t make a difference. This way the kids can start talking about it, and brainstorm ways they can help themselves in the future. 

Everyone talks about how climate change is becoming a big problem, but what are they doing to help resolve it? For most people, nothing. Yes, the youth are becoming very aware of the problems, but are we looking at the ways to solve it? Some people online are posting about this climate change and how/what it is effecting. But when you look at the comments they all say “This has been going on for so long, we will be fine.” or “Nobody even lives in Antarctica so why does it matter?” But we won’t be “fine” forever. These things are real and aren’t going to just disappear or stop. And most of the people commenting about it “not affecting us” are the people who won’t be here to see the damage that they created. We need to make a difference in our actions for these things to stop. 

You may have heard about the oil drilling that was supposed to happen in Alaska, named “The Willow Project”. This oil and gas extraction project threatened to unleash 260 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over the next 30 years. In the process, it would industrialize thousands of acres of habitat for animals like threatened polar bears and caribou into a polluted and noisy oil field. When this was first announced everyone on social media was talking about all the bad things this would cause. This is one of the first times I was proud of my generation. This is when we created a petition to stop this, and so many people signed it. 5.6 million people. That is a lot. But not enough. This project is still up in the air, and still ready to go whenever they want to start. Again this project would emit 260 million metric tons of CO2 into the air we breathe and the atmosphere we live in, within 30 years. Most youth and adults will be alive and well, until this project happens and destroys us, our environment, and the Earth. Our Earth that we need to be taking better care of. 

If you were on the Northeast coast of the U.S. in late May or early June 2023, you would have seen how bad the air quality was and how it affected us. The air quality was at levels we’ve never seen before and the air quality got so bad that in New York people were hunkered down in their homes. The sky’s turned orange, people woke up with raspy voices, and day after day we had to look up at the sky and ask ourselves, “Will it stay this way?” or “Is this the new normal?” which, if you ask me, it’s pretty sad.  Wildfires have always been a thing, but now they are becoming more popular than ever, and in a short amount of time people will need to learn to live with wildfire smoke. It won’t be every year, but we’re likely to see summers like 2023 more often. And eventually it will be every year. We will have to tell, not ask, ourselves that this is the new normal. 

In Elementary school we used to do things for Earth week. Such as go on a nature trail and pick up all the litter we see, learn how the smoke that factories and trucks emit affect the air around us, and how to reduce, reuse, and recycle our trash. Now in highschool I haven’t heard a thing about what’s going on for the environment. Are we dying and not know it? Are we too blind to see how much our everyday actions will lead to the death of everything in the future? Or are we just too lazy to actually do anything to stop it? “No of course not!” Just because we want to call ourselves smart and productive rather than lazy and unworthy. I am not sure if the Elementary kids still do things for Earth Day. And if they do, they should do it more than 1 day a year. We should be teaching the kids how they can help prevent the near future from being non-existent. 

Last year, on Christmas Eve, the temperatures were in the 50’s. This just goes to show how we are seriously running out of time, and we need to open our eyes and realize that. We are the ones walking into this pit of carelessness. Yet while we complain, we are doing nothing to change our ways. We are just dreading the day it becomes too late for us. 

I don’t think people understand what this world is leading the youth to. I don’t think they can understand. No one can understand exactly what is going to happen, until one day we realize that we are too late. Too late to take anything back, too late to start changing our actions, too late to even react to how awful the world looks, feels, and sounds. We changed the world in the wrong way, and now is the only time we can reverse our outcome before it changes to even worse. Our egos have gotten so strong that we are unable to care about the eco. The environment is crumbling before our eyes, and we can’t see it over our wall of ego. We are waiting for the ecosystem to climb over our wall, when it is supposed to be us overcoming ourselves to see how much we affect the world. 

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