The Earth needs our help: here’s what you can do

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The Times

Alyssa Bruner, staff writer

The earth’s environment is one of our most precious resources. From the Amazon rainforest in South America, which is the largest rainforest in the world and home to over 400 Indigenous tribes, to the deep blue ocean that produces 50-80% of the world’s oxygen, the earth that we live on is beautiful and has kept us alive for millions of years. However, the environment is suffering more than ever, and there needs to be more initiative to protect and care for our beloved home.

   As an example, raging wildfires on the west coast of the U.S. (most notably in California) are caused most often by human error. This could be from littering, leaving campfires unattended, cigarettes haphazardly being thrown on the ground, and even intentional acts of arson. These careless acts have caused countless forest fires (approximately 85% are the result of human error according to Wildland Fire Management Information and the U.S. Forest Service) that end up destroying the surrounding area. This includes burning down human homes, decimating wildlife habitats and sometimes species populations, and causing air pollution. Further, fire releases carbon dioxide, a prominent greenhouse gas that enters the atmosphere and contributes to the depleting ozone layer.

   This has also been seen in Australia, where in the 2019-2020 bushfire season (a particularly intense period), 46 million acres of land were burnt and nearly 3 billion animals were killed. A prominent example of this being koalas, which are listed anywhere from being critically endangered to functionally extinct in the wild in four Australian states. The bushfires this past year were mostly caused by an unusually dry summer, and numerous acts of intentional arson.

   Other issues, such as deforestation, coral bleaching in coral reefs, toxic waste dumping in the ocean and civilian water sources, and climate change as a whole has affected us more than we could ever know. Soon, our natural home will no longer be suitable to reside in. Acts of carelessness such as the arson or littering do absolutely nothing to help.

   We as humans must do our duty of protecting the environment. The good news is that we have the ability to turn back the clock and correct our mistakes so that our earth stays cleaner for longer. The benefits are enormous, including cleaner water for our consumption and enjoyment, greater biodiversity (meaning species populations will be restored and keep the environment self-sustaining), and an earth that will be present for future generations to live on and appreciate.

   The ways that we can help are abundant. First thing, we can start by recycling our waste such as plastic water bottles (which you can transition to reusable ones) and paper. This helps to reduce the waste in landfills, which are also dangerous to the environment due to erosion and choking hazards to nearby animals (or, if dumped into the ocean, can harm animals such as turtles who choke on soda ring plastics). Remember the “reduce, reuse, recycle” you learned back in elementary school? Well, now is the time to dig that out of your memory and put it to work. You can also help by volunteering to clean up beaches and water fronts, which helps the ocean tremendously by allowing it to produce more oxygen, making sure aquatic animal populations aren’t decimated, and sustaining the food chain or biodiversity. Donations to organizations such as Oceana and The Nature Conservancy can also be helpful.

   However, the most important part to helping our environment is education. Even if it seems like common sense, many people don’t know the effects of their actions on the earth or how to stop and help. Advocacy is a part of any activist movement, and advocating for the protection of the natural world should be no different. Advocacy also includes signing petitions and calling legislators at the local or federal who can help pass bills that make sure that our planet is protected. 

   No matter what you do for the earth, every little thing counts because Mother Nature is in dire need of our help. Going green is something that every person should be willing to do, because one way or another, this earth needs saving.