by Hannah Adamson
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: a mantra repeated in efforts to save our planet that is slowly being destroyed by humankind. As societies have industrialized and technology has progressed, our Earth has become more and more polluted. With rapid population growth and increased consumption, nature has been suffering—deforestation, overfishing, species extinction, global warming, pollution—the list goes on. These unintended consequences threaten the livelihood of “tomorrow’s generation”; recent reports released by the United Nations warn that we have only about a decade until the damage to the climate is irreversible.
At the current rate of consumption, resources will soon become scarce. Scarcity is a driving force in conflict, and I fear how individuals and countries will cope with the deterioration of the environment and lack of natural resources. Will society crumble? Will the globe be ravaged by war? Will the human race survive? Will the Earth? There are no definitive answers to these questions, only increasingly dire predictions. I fear that human compassion and rationality could be lost in the chaos of large-scale conflicts arising in efforts to secure vital resources. I fear that priorities like peace, education, equality and innovation will fall by the wayside in the struggle for survival. Yet, these predictions do not have to come to fruition. We still have time to make a change.
As a teen in suburban New Jersey, it can be easy at times to feel removed from this environmental plight. I flick a switch and lights come on. I turn a knob and water comes out. I adjust a thermostat and warm air circulates. At first glance, nothing about this seems difficult or harmful. The problem lies in how this resource is brought within reach. Is the electricity that turns the lights on sourced from hydropower or from coal? Is the water I’m using sourced locally or is it depleting a water table hundreds of miles away? How much pollution is the furnace creating? Every action has a consequence, and it is only through being mindful that we can fully understand the implications of our everyday lives on the environment. While, at the moment, we may not be breathing in toxic air or struggling to find clean water, we are continuing to deteriorate the environment around us. Many teens around the world are already struggling with these problems. It is up to us to call attention to these important issues in an effort to stop the damage. As teenagers, we are “tomorrow’s generation” of adults—the decline of the environment is not a future worry; it is a present problem.
As individuals, many of us make environmentally conscious decisions every day, but working at the individual level is not enough. Major actions need to be taken by governments and large organizations to preserve the environment and natural resources that are left. So, sign that petition, join that local environmental group, do what you can to help support those in power that are fighting to make a positive global impact. Large-scale positive change can come only from collaboration. One person’s “reduce, reuse, recycle” is no longer enough.
Hannah Adamson is a senior in high school. She practices meditation and takes ThetaHealing courses with Reshma Shah in Westfield, New Jersey. April 2019