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Corporations and governments should be at the forefront of climate change discussions

Corporations and governments should be at the forefront of climate change discussions

Corporations and governments should be at the forefront of climate change discussions
July 09
13:00 2021

While Texas is still facing the consequences of the historic winter storm that devastated the state earlier this year, a record-breaking heatwave is hitting the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and parts of Canada. Reaching highs of 117 degrees, this heatwave has already caused hundreds of deaths. These extreme weather conditions are unusual for their geographical regions and are a devastating consequence of global warming.

Natural disasters such as these are quickly becoming the norm. This is not exclusive to the U.S. but happening all over the world — and this is only the beginning. Scientists have been warning us for years now. If we continue living with complete disregard for the environment, it will speed up our own extinction.

The conversation surrounding what we can do to stop climate change has been one that is primarily focused on the individual and their responsibility to be more eco-friendly. We are pressured to change our lifestyles for ones that can be considered micromanaged, like making sure that our tires are inflated correctly to improve our gas milage and limit the emissions we put out.

But how are governments and big corporations going to be held to the same standard?

We’re told we can help with global warming by carpooling or buying electric cars. Electric cars such as Tesla’s are made from metals that come from environmentally destructive mines, all while being charged with the same electricity that is created by burning coal. Though indirect, they still run on fossil fuels.

Streetcars used to be the most popular way to get around in the U.S., having a lot of routes that stretched out to the suburbs. That was until cars became more affordable and people started buying them, leading to crowded roads that made streetcars inefficient and obsolete.

This directly impacted the way cities were developed and planned out, often leaving these areas reliant on cars to get around.  How can people undo that?

We could also try to be responsible and not use single-use plastics or straws. But ask yourself, why is everything wrapped in plastic in the first place? It is almost impossible to buy groceries nowadays without all the saran wrap and cellophane. You walk into Walmart and even some unsliced, perfectly intact produce is wrapped in plastic.

This isn’t how it’s always been, and this isn’t how it has to continue. This is something that was implemented by large corporations. They should change the way they handle their products to make it easier to avoid plastics. If small business owners can work out how to get rid of single-use plastics in their stores, why can’t big grocery chains like Walmart do the same?

There are areas all across the world that have banned plastic altogether and are making it work. Their societies didn’t crumble because they limited or banned single-use plastic. It is a possibility that corporations are neglecting.

We’re also told we could eat less meat. Go vegetarian. Go vegan. After all, the meat industry alone contributes up to 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Up to three percent of those emissions are from the U.S. alone.  As a country, we eat more meat per person than almost anywhere else in the world.

Even if people lowered their meat consumption, the meat industry would still continue to raise and slaughter cows that end up as food waste. Just like the dairy industry pumps out milko only to pour out the excess amount and produce is destroyed for the sake of market stability.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do our part to help with climate change. Mentioned above are great ways to start. We should choose more eco-friendly alternatives whenever possible, especially with the wide variety of options we have now.

But that is just a Band-Aid solution. Everyone has to do their part, including corporations and governments. They need to be a part of this conversation.

It doesn’t matter how many times we choose to buy the eco-friendly detergent at Target if just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. We can’t sustainably consume our way out of this. It is not possible.

It isn’t only corporations that have to do their part, but our governments as well. The U.S. Military is ranked as an individual entity because of how much pollution it leaves all over the world. It is a bigger polluter than 100 other countries combined. And this is just our military, this in no way reflects how much the U.S. itself contributes to global warming.

We must hold our governments accountable. After all, they are the ones in charge of the legislation that lets corporations go unchecked.

They are also the ones with the power to bring massive change. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been trying to pass the Green New Deal since 2019. It calls on our government to steer away from fossil fuels while guaranteeing new jobs in the clean energy sector, truly investing in policies that could bring in the change we need. That is what we need from our government. That is what we should call on them to do.

Time is ticking. We don’t have forever.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Tania Amador

Tania Amador

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