This I Believe

Emily - Park Ridge, Illinois
Entered on January 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: environment

Not many people want to be labeled as an environmentalist. This word conjures images of bird-watchers and tree-huggers, of hemp and tasteless organic food, of hermits and caves. But these words do not describe me. I eat Oreos and wear clothes from Urban Outfitters. My house has air conditioning and Tivo and cars. And despite these major differences, I still consider myself to be a part of that same group: a group concerned with the future of our planet.

Every summer, my whole family travels to Wisconsin and spends days outside, swimming in the lake, looking for tiny frogs in the seaweed, and swinging in the sunny hammock. In the winter, my friends and I sled down steep hills covered in snow, my cousins relish in throwing snowballs at unsuspecting drivers, and my little sister decorates snow families with matching gloves and scarves. The world is our home; it is the only place we can be. I believe that it is our duty to protect the life and beauty of the very thing that allows us our own lives.

After reading An Inconvenient Truth, I was overcome with worry about the future. I was worried of the cherished things that could be lost. I want winter and I want snow. I want maple trees and I want green grass. I want to be able to travel the beach and ski down mountains. My worry about the Earth might be selfish. But it is not a selfish concern. When the environment fails, we will fail. There will not be us without it.

Many people say that it won’t be that bad; that global warming won’t have drastic affects. But one just has to look around to see that there needs to be a change. Polar bears are drowning and tsunamis and hurricanes are damaging the lives of thousands. This is the first winter I can remember where my family was not able to skate on the lake in Wisconsin. It was not frozen.

Although I might be worried, I am not without hope. I believe that the human race has the power to make the changes necessary to save our Earth. I can already see it happening. Companies like UPS are slowly changing their gas-powered trucks to hybrid vehicles. More citizens are buying energy efficient light bulbs and recycling plastic bottles. There are bills stopping deforestation and fishing to the point of ruining populations.

I am hopeful. It is not about sacrificing; it is about changing the world so there is a future. The changes can be small. It’s unplugging the unused coffeemaker and turning off the TV when no one is watching. It’s recycling glass and plastic bottles and turning over the sheet of paper. It’s changing light bulbs and turning off lights and planting trees. This is what I try to do. It is doable. We have the power to ensure the same beauty to futures generations that was given to us. If everyone tried, we would be able to help. If even just most tried, we could succeed. It is our duty, it is our job, and it is our problem.

I know there are skeptics who say that it won’t make a difference. But this is not what I believe. I believe that we should prevent calamities so we won’t need to find a cure. I believe that the world is worth saving, even for its beauty alone. I cannot imagine a world without flowers and birds and mountains covered in snow. I don’t want to live in world that is polluted, dirty, and stricken with the worst natural disasters in history. I want to look up into the green swaying leaves of trees and know that they will be here for others to see. Without the Earth, there is nothing. What will be able to do without our home? Where will we be able to go? Love and laughter and life depend on its constant presence. I believe that we have the power and intelligence and foresight to protect the predominant thing that sustains our own lives: Earth.