A speaker came to campus last night to give a presentation meant to minimize the significance of global climate change and paint the pursuance of sustainable practices and renewable energy sources as largely unnecessary.
This idea makes my skin crawl.
Regardless of what you think about climate change – whether it's a man-made danger or a natural cycle, or a combination of both – it's not okay to hold tight the belief that humans can do whatever they want with the planet.
In fact, it's despicable. Believing our actions have little effect on the environment around us or the quality of life our descendents might one day enjoy is as prideful and selfish as believing that grass doesn't look any less beautiful with a can of beer and a fast food wrapper thrown down and trampled on it.
While pursuing renewable resources and clean energy might be expensive or risky, it's also representative of scientific endeavors that create jobs and push the limits of our collective human understanding. Furthermore, it demonstrates man's willingness to accept accountability for his behavior – something that's been missing far too often throughout history.
I trust the government's Environmental Protection Agency far more than this speaker (a Fortune 500 executive-turned "expert" in three years) but even if the government's reports and statistics are wrong and climate change isn't anything humans have responsibility for, individuals should still be held responsible for their own actions.
Spewing tons of nasty industrial byproducts into the air or water is wrong in the same way that throwing leftover litter in somebody's flowerbeds is distasteful and lazy. The alternative to this kind of pollution won't be as easy as searching for the trash can down the street, but if there is an alternative, and we must search for it.