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In order to consider environmental sustainability, we must first define it. It can be described as “The rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely.” My perspective is that it is something that all countries need to actively consider. It may be harder in underdeveloped countries, such as Kenya, for obvious reasons. They have to work with lack of funds, political corruption, less developed ideas about on what is appropriate for women to take part in, and an ever-growing population to feed and employ. Here in the United States, we are advantageous because we are more progressively moving towards eliminating age old gendered norms that constrict the ability for women to exceed in all aspects. We also probably have a steadier economic environment, we may not have much to fund but we still have the state parks and such up and running.
The most important aspects of a sustainable environment are social, economic and of course, environmental. Without satisfying all three of these consecutively it is not possible to have one. Let us first focus on the biggest factor, the environment. The amount of pollution that the United States of America emits is not even comparable to that of Kenya just due to sheer size. Even so, you would think that it would be a very pressing issue considering the amount of scientific evidence that show a grim outlook for our earth. However, that is simply not the case. As Americans we are told by so many large figures in political power that it’s made up or exaggerated. A senator by the name of Jim Inhofe actually used his time on the senate floor to go outside and pick up a handful of snow as a way of discrediting global warming. This is someone that has been elected to office, someone who is supposed to help make educated decisions for the people in this country. He went on further to point out “record lows” in temperature to further suggest that global warming is a hoax. Even our new president-elect Donald Trump has expressed his skepticism regarding global climate change.
One might think that seeing this, you could call these people fools, that you could show them empirical evidence to prove that it does, indeed exist. It is truly sad to see the sentiment of people like that echoed among our vast population. I honestly do believe that a lot of people in our country choose to turn their heads away from the issue at hand. One of the reasons is that it is bad for business. We are a country derived on capitalist ideals and are always trying to reap whatever we can sow, regardless of the consequences. Only recently have we start to see companies trying to make a difference and change their business models so that they are fair in all kinds of aspects of business. Starbucks promotes fair trade and paying farmers of their coffee competitive prices because it is unethical to pay them less, as they might take it because they have no other choice. Panera Bread opts for buying from local farms and also ethically buying coffee.
Another big reason people might turn the other cheek is that it is in all honesty, pretty terrifying to come to terms with. It’s scary to think that we have known about the consequences for quite some time, yet humans still deplete resources, still pollute water sources and still do as they have since the industrial revolution. The implication that the earth has been damaged beyond repair, or that we cannot slow down the rate at which the global temperature is rising is hard to fathom. My theory is that when something is scary, and seemingly too big and powerful to stop, than the most you can do is hide.
There is also a lot to consider about who we can blame for this. Everyone needs someone or something to blame when bad things happen, it’s part of human nature to want to. However, instead of pointing the finger or playing whodunit, we need to focus on a plan of action. As a country we need to listen to voices of people such as Wangari, because despite the political turbulence her career endured, she still is motivated and working on new ways to implement her vision. We need to see that not only the global temperature is being affected but smaller things, things that people who live in less developed places rely on, what we rely on in some aspects as well. S
I think the first step we could take as a nation is to listen to what is being said, to take that information and process it, to think about it critically but also be willing to be opened minded. From there we could start to make a plan about ways to fund, create and maintain a sustainable environment. There are so many new things that people are inventing, so many ways to “get your hands dirty” and take charge of your immediate environment, just like Wangari has. We could implement the use of more solar, wind, and hydro energy. We could make the big focus on the phasing out of the use of fossil fuels for renewable ones. We can get politically involved to help impose restrictions on large corporations who exploit resources or do not monitor or decrease their carbon footprints or amount they pollute. There are just so many options out there that can help get the ball rolling. But alas, never without obstacles.
Financially, it may be hard to come up with the resources to fund such projects, especially in a time of economic struggle. It is something to consider to be a priority though, because the disastrous affects are going to cost lives, homes and even more money in damages. As a nation we should consider what we can do without to make the transition to clean energy, what with that being one of the mane concerns. Our elected officials need to come up with a way to get on the right track, not just for our citizens, but for the entire world.
In conclusion, I think that we do not yet have what it takes to maintain a sustainable environment. We have a lot of work to do still, and even though we are developed, it is possible that my own voice as a woman would fall upon deaf ears. As a woman I will do my best to rally others to make their voices matter, to assure them just as Wangari did that they do not need to be a scientist or a college graduate to care or to make real changes.
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