By Tal Ginsburg
“But now, says the Once-ler, now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s Not” [Seuss, Dr.]. In the story, The Lorax, the Once-ler cuts down all the trees in order to progress in his business.
The Lorax, a n animal that lived in these trees, warned the Once-ler all along of his destruction. Not until the Once-ler terminated all the trees did he realize that he had nothing left in life. All that remained for the Once-ler was the word “UNLESS” inscribed in the empty forest in front of him. In a way, each individual is like the Once-ler. Every person contributes to the destruction of the environment in a different way. Unless society stops living in this manner, humanity will be left with nothing, like the Once-ler. Living a green lifestyle benefits the health of the environment as well as the health of humanity. The following elements are essential in order to revitalize the health of the environment and the health of the people. To start off, a Green lifestyle is about being healthy, respecting nature, and doing everything one possibly can to reinstate the environment’s and society’s health to a wholesome condition.
A major issue that the environment is faced with is humanity’s reckless use of energy. The waste of energy releases many fossil fuels into the air that risk the health of the environment and the health of the people. One of the main effects of energy overuse is pollution. The results of pollution are very detrimental; it is changing many natural cycles like temperature and is spreading many diseases.
Society has become dependent on energy use to such a great extent that it does not think twice about the amount of energy it uses and its harmful effects. Recklessly wasting energy can significantly jeopardize the health of the environment and the health of people. Energy has been carelessly spent on the excessive amount of transportation, which society highly relies on. With vehicle transportation being such a crucial part of an individual’s day, it should not be a surprise that “86% is the portion of US annual energy use created by combustion of fossil fuels” [Go Green Facts]. This massive amount of incineration is one of the main contributors to atmospheric pollution. The process of converting fossil fuels to energy is the most injurious part yet. The conversion to energy creates water pollution, land degradation, and solid waste accumulation. These negative impacts on the environment take a great toll on the health of people. A concept that many have not yet grasped is that the “spread of infectious diseases can be exacerbated through global warming as the by-products of our energy use are released” [Go Green Facts]. All of the toxic pollutants that are being extracted into the atmosphere accumulate into our lungs every time we inhale oxygen. After every breath taken, the toxins are hoarded in the respiratory system and can eventually lead to lung cancer, heart attacks, and premature death. Not only does the combustion of fossil fuel degrade the health of society, but it also has a harmful effect on the health of the environment. Due to the high discharge of fossil fuels from energy use, “carbon dioxide traps heat into our atmosphere and is believed to be a cause of global warming” [Leech, Eric]. The excessive amount of combusted fossil fuels caused by the inflated use of energy releases noxious pollutants that ascend to the top of the atmosphere. As all of the contaminants accumulate in the air, they create a dome over urban areas that trap heat; this is known as the Green House Effect. The accretion of confined heat will gradually increase temperature and will lower the amount of annual rainfall. To avoid all of these harmful effects on the environment and the people, it is imperative to control the utilization of energy in one’s daily life.
Reducing the amount of energy used benefits the environment as well as the government. With the recession that is occurring today, the economy is in desperate need to save money in any way possible. It would be surprising for the government to discover that “$20 million is the amount of money that would be saved if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings improved by 10%” [Go Green Facts]. Energy is being carelessly wasted to an extent where even the slightest change in utilization can make a remarkable difference. Just by taking little steps to acknowledge and lessen the amount of energy wasted can help save a lot of money that should never be spent in the first place. Instead, all of this money could be invested into placing alternative energy sources in many urban areas. However, merely reducing the amount of energy used is not enough to restore the environment to its original state of health. With modern day technology, Scientists have discovered a way to make an alternative energy source that is more eco-friendly. Simply by “achieving a 20% wind contribution to US electricity supply by 2030 would reduce the CO2 emissions by 25%” [Go Green Facts]. By switching to wind power, the energy would be supplied by natural power. The wind turbine could operate solely on wind rather than other unnatural, toxic substances that would be incinerated in the process. With the reduction of CO2 emissions, the air would not be as toxic, which would lead to a decrease in the amount of pollutants that affect human society. By taking notice of the amount of energy wasted, one can make a significant difference in the health of the environment and the atmosphere that surrounds them.
Pollution is caused by the large amounts of carbon dioxide and other fossil fuels that are being combusted into the air and which remain around us. Because the toxins linger in the atmosphere, “pollution can enhance asthma and allergies. It is also linked to lung cancer” [The Web Nurse]. All the chemical pollutants that drift into the air are inhaled into our lungs with every breath taken. Since the air we breathe is unsanitary, the toxins lead to the destruction of our lungs. This filth can add up over time and can develop into a disease. As an urban area releases combustion into the air on a day-to-day basis, the toxins rise and join the overlay of chemical pollutants that reside on the uppermost layer of the atmosphere and clog it. Due to this blockade, “ambient temperatures in urban areas are artificially increased anywhere from 1-10 degrees compared with surrounding areas” [Go Green Facts].
As more pollution is created, the layer in the air becomes so dense that it traps all the heat that is stored within the area. Over time, temperature within the urban area will increase gradually. In addition, pollution is the base to many other issues that are compromising the health of the environment and the health of the people. It is merely “due to unnatural habits and ways of living, increased use of harmful chemicals and toxic pollutants, [ that] our planet is facing the threat of global warming, unpredictable seasons, low rainfall and increased temperature” [6 Benefits of Going Green].
It is proven that pollution is the cause of these negative effects. Reducing the amount of pollution one creates will progressively diminish global warming, unpredictable seasons, and all other impacts that derive from pollution. By doing so, the atmosphere’s condition will improve and will eventually be restored to a cleaner state. Pollution creates a perpetual crisis in today’s society that is risking the well being of society and of the environment.
Reducing energy use will decrease the amount of pollution. Renewable resources are a superior alternative that can enhance the condition of the environment. This method is an important substitute because “ renewable resources reduce electricity and industrial pollution, which is one of the major causes of acid rain through its byproduct of sulfur oxides which are spewed into the air” [Leech, Eric J]. Renewable resources can have a sustainable yield, unlike the non-renewable sources like gasoline, oil, and coal. This means that the renewable resources that consist of organic materials can be extracted yearly from the earth without causing harm to the environment. Additionally, there are many ways in which a person can choose to conserve energy in their daily lives. One example is “for every passenger mile traveled, public transportation emits 95% less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides than private vehicles,” [Go Green Facts]. The amount of energy used will be reduced significantly because a larger group utilizes the same amount of energy that would have been spent individually. Living a green lifestyle can drastically reduce the amount of energy used, which leads to the cutback of pollution created. The main step for fully living a green life is to recycle.
Recycling materials can significantly improve the conditions of the environment. This method of reusing material reduces the amount of energy and natural resources that are being carelessly wasted. This is because “recycling tin and steel saves 74% energy used to produce virgin steel” [Go Green Facts]. The extraction of tin and steel is very energy consuming. By recycling the raw materials, there would be no need to produce as much tin and steel. Recycling a raw material can also be beneficial in preserving resources. “Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water” [Go Green Facts]. Standard paper contaminates this water, creating water pollution. By reprocessing the paper, less of the material is deposited in the water and there is less contamination. As a result, more water is conserved due to the decline in water pollution. In most circumstances, destroying a non-renewable material utilizes more energy than it would take to recycle the material. Through extensive research and observations it is concluded that “recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in the incinerator” (Go Green Facts). It takes a large quantity of energy to dispose plastic due to the fact that it is composed of a firm substance. By recycling plastic, there is no need to smolder the material, causing the use of the incinerator to lessen. Recycling goes farther beyond reducing energy and the use of raw materials.
In this case, the sky is the limit.
Recycling raw materials decreases the amount of air pollution and the amount of waste that is created. The process of creating a water bottle is very damaging towards the environment. The procedure of “recycling one bottle causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials” [Go Green Facts]. By recycling, fewer water bottles are incinerated, which decreases the amount of toxins that create air pollution. Also, recycling bottles means that fewer bottles are being carelessly dumped into the ocean, halting the spread of water pollution.
Recycling also helps landfills because “ mining and transporting raw materials for glass produce[s] about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made; if recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%,” [Go Green Facts]. After creating glass, excess toxic material is left over. This waste is useless and requires burning the extract to get rid of it. By recycling glass, there would scarcely remain any waste due to the decrease in the creation of glass. When a material is not recycled, all of the substance is dumped in the landfills. “Recycling 1,098,776 tons of paper saves 3,625,961 cubic yards of landfill space” (Mass Recycle). Since the landfills are littered with excess garbage, masses of toxic gases are released into the air. Large spaces of landfills are now open, and can be used in a more conventional matter. Recycling truly does benefit the health of the environment as well as the health of the people.
With all the damage that society has brought upon the environment and itself, it is humanity’s duty to fix the problems it has created. Without the help of each individual, the environment will continue to become unhealthy, making it unbearable for humans to survive. By preserving energy, the amount of fossil fuels that are combusted would decrease dramatically. And by reducing the amount of energy used, we would also reduce pollution. Without pollution, the natural cycles will return to their standard rotation. Also, the amount of people tainted with disease by pollution will also decrease. Most importantly, recycling reduces the amount of pollution that is caused, the energy that is wasted, and the natural resources that are depleted. As shown, it is proven that a green lifestyle is beneficial for the health of the environment as well as the health of the people.
Like the Once-ler, if humanity continues to live insensitively towards the environment, it will reach a point where it will look onto the depleted land and remember the word, “UNLESS.” Instead of reaching the point where it wonders what could have been, let it act now knowing that it will never have to think how things could have been different if only it would have gone green.