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Michael Ingram

Seaford Sr. HS, 9th

During the humble beginnings of Earth, all forms of life roamed a planet free of discrimination and anger. Earth was a haven to billions of creatures, insects and plants, yet they did not divide themselves into countries and continents. Plant life flourished in a world absent of deforestation, soaring to the skies and covering the Earth in its beautiful green glow. Underwater, beautiful sculptures of marine life traveled the seas with no end. Animals traveled Earth and prospered off of its creations, dying only to bless the Earth with their nutrients and spirits. Today, all these animals are buried deep within Earth, never to completely die as long as Earth bears them within its gentle hold. Despite no consciousness, emotions, or thoughts, life selflessly persisted to ensure there would be a future for Earth. 

      In this future, humans were created. Like other species, they were born amongst the blessings of Earth and died to fuel a cycle of harmony within all life. However, this era of time came to a premature close. After the Chicxulub asteroid struck Earth and concluded the dinosaurs’ time on Earth, humans stood dominant of our vulnerable world. For the first time in the universe, an advanced species began to reshape life at an exponential rate.

      However, humanity broke the selfless cycle of life on Earth that had persisted for eons. Powerful individuals began to strip Earth of its fossils to make fuel. Corporations began to cut down entire forests in favor of greed. Animals were inducted into feedlots where they were born, raised, and killed in mass. A small percentage of humanity selfishly began to destroy life in order to gain power. The Earth has slowly begun to crumble underneath the pressure of carbon dioxide emission and excessive heat – all as a result of human activity. Now, humanity and biodiverse life are suffering the greatest environmental injustice in the known universe at the hands of the richest on the planet.

      Every summer for the past three years, I’ve always been forced to camp out with my grandparents in the countryside of Sussex County. During each summer, I’ve learned to appreciate the obnoxious but beautiful pine trees, the peaceful fields of corn which stand frozen in time, and the beauty of the undisturbed land which hides itself from towering buildings and busy traffic. Deep in our property next to the forest, chickens, horses, and cows spend the season turning our messy pasture into a tame meadow. The last few summers have been the best times of my life. However, one day, I realized something wasn’t right. Across the street from my property was a huge development that hadn’t sat well with me, but I never wondered why. As it suddenly dawned on me, I realized that nature was facing injustice. The guardians of countryside Delaware had been slaughtered in order to turn a desolate, peaceful land into a human hotspot. The birds that burrow themselves within the protection of Earth’s leaves and branches had been expelled from their homes so this development could be made. I slowly witnessed in horror as these monuments of evil continued to appear; I couldn’t bear to witness what had been done to our defenseless local life. The desolate countryside of my county was gradually being destroyed and deep within me, I understood that nature did not deserve to be treated like this. It deserved to be honored and respected, exactly as it had been for billions of years. 

      In order to manage my grief, I began to research the effects humanity had on Earth. Human activity has dominated the Earth’s ecosystems and climate. Due to this imbalance, Earth has become subject to a dire situation – climate change. When Earth generates carbon dioxide, a portion exits the atmosphere while the rest heats up the Earth’s atmosphere. This is called the greenhouse effect. However, when too much carbon dioxide is generated, excess and unnatural heat is trapped inside of Earth. This excess heat is devastating to Earth – ecosystems and species have adjusted to Earth’s natural temperature, but human activity has increased the temperature that Earth should be. Aggressive fossil fuel dependency, agriculture, transport, infrastructure, and energy use causes climate change, and they are the reason for all greenhouse emissions. Nonetheless, the greatest contributor to climate change are industries looking to profit off the Earth’s relics. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that industries are responsible for generating 78% of all greenhouse emissions across the world. Life aspired to maintain Earth when it first began, but humanity negated this persistent effort once the most powerful people found a way to profit off the Earth’s valuable resources. Now, coastal communities and marine life face displacement and extinction due to rising sea levels. The most vulnerable countries and people in the world will be indiscriminately impacted by climate change through means of relocation or death. Biodiverse life will become displaced and forgotten – this has been proven by reports that the world is currently facing its sixth mass extinction event due to human activity. Corporations created a dependency for products such as fossil fuels and agriculture so that now, all life on Earth must reap the consequences of their systematic selfishness.

      Life on Earth deserves better. Frankly, anybody reading this essay has the privilege of having the resources to learn about climate change. In Afghanistan, the DRC, South Sudan, Yemen, and an overwhelming number of countries, people are starving to death and suffering. In the DRC, independent contractors pay for cobalt – one of the worlds most desired elements – to be extracted through child labor and miniscule pay, yet the country is considered one of the poorest despite it generating three quarters of the world’s cobalt output. Developed nations have intruded upon these vulnerable countries and left them to rot in deadly heat and rising sea levels, for what? Do the people of undeveloped nations deserve to suffer and die? Across the world, oil companies such as Aramco, Chevron, Exxon, and more have profited in the tens of billions while marine life is left to deal with the aftermath of countless spills. These same companies have been documented to have known about climate change for decades and still have yet to lift a finger. Clearly, the world’s most privileged individuals have chosen to intentionally destroy the Earth and rob it of its resources while electing to ignore the effect their enterprises have had and will have on the survival of all life on Earth. Even if they halted their operations immediately, so many families amongst all ecosystems on Earth would still suffer the most dire consequences of climate change that they were not responsible for. I can no longer bear witness to this destruction.

      I will not remain silent like my friends, family, and peers. I cannot watch as my area is transformed into a hotspot for busy traffic and cozy homes. Most humans understand the grave consequences of climate change, but why is there still little to no activism? Simply, billions of life forms will suffer or die on Earth if we allow our atmosphere to continue blazing, including your family and your friends. Millions have already died. 

To me, defining environmental justice means repairing the damage that humans have inflicted upon marginalized communities and biodiverse life, and holding the world’s most powerful corporations accountable for the extermination of life and deterioration of Earth. The only way we will all collectively achieve that is if the youth of today begin to inform, advocate, and commit towards making a future absent of greenhouse emissions. Starting right now, Delaware youth can inform their friends and family of the consequences of climate change, and how to advocate against it, by posting on social media, talking about it in person, creating art, and more. Youth can also take personal actions against climate change by buying less clothes, consuming less meat and dairy, using public transport, and realizing that our future depends on the actions we take now. I realized that I can’t live to witness our world devolve into suffering and death due to the richest. When Earth began, life committed to selfless change and striving for the possibility of a future. I am now responsible for restoring life’s meaning and fighting against climate, and I hope that the youth today can realize the change we need to make for Earth’s future. Whether that change is something good or bad depends on us. We are all responsible for what comes next.


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