Editor Speaks Out: Melissa Moller

Melissa Moller

Global warming is not news. It didn’t begin yesterday, and it’s not going away anytime soon. The problem with our society is that we live in the now. We worry about each day as it comes, and then say we’ll combat our problems tomorrow. But as a culture we have to change. We have to realize that our actions, either small or big, are having an impact on the world around us.

Global warming, in a nutshell, is excess carbon dioxide trapped in the atmosphere that is heating up the earth. The United States makes up a mere four percent of the world’s population, yet is responsible for 22 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions come from our cars, factories and power plants. But how big of an impact could we have on that 22 percent?

According to The Media Audit, more than 27 percent of Americans now own an SUV. That is an 18 percent increase in the last five years. But how does this affect the environment?

Well, 2006 was marked the hottest year on record for the United States. According to environmentaldefense.org America is also ranked No. 1 as the top global warming polluter in the world. Further, since 1990 America’s carbon dioxide emissions have increased 20 percent thanks to the growing number of SUVs purchased.

Sure politicians are responsible for promoting change and encouraging environmental efforts. But as the young generation, I feel we are responsible to be catalysts to help transform our culture. If we don’t, our future and our children’s future won’t be looking so bright.

By 2080, according to environmentaldefense.org, 200 million people worldwide will be displaced from sea level rise. As a Long Island native, this scares me, and it should scare anyone who lives near a coastline.

Increase in water temperature and the rise of sea levels are not only affecting humans. Animals are already facing problems. In Canada’s Hudson Bay, numbers of polar bears have been declining, according to a study by Canadian Wildlife services. Ice on the bay is melting three weeks earlier than the 1970s. When the ice melts earlier, polar bears are forced to retreat inland before they can find enough food for them to survive.

Zero federal bills have been passed to cap America’s global warming pollution and President Bush has mentioned the phrase “global warming” once in his last six State of the Union speeches.

Whether or not we are aware of it, we are the generation with the most influence on the future. We can’t just rely on our parents, our teachers or our politicians to make the necessary changes and precautions anymore.

So what can we do? The most important step is to educate ourselves. Watch Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” because he states the facts.

There are simple tasks that everyone could do like replacing light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. This would save 300 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Keeping the tires on your car adequately inflated would save 250 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Even taking a shorter shower would save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide.

And then there are the tasks that require more effort, but have bigger positive impacts, like buying a hybrid car. The average driver could save 16,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. So who is ready to trade in their Hummer for a more environmentally friendly Toyota Prius?

If you don’t want the city of Manhattan to be reduced to a mere couple of blocks, I would start considering it.