The U.S. Needs to Lose the Ego Trip Because It Is Doing Environmentalism Wrong

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Americana is a brand built by industry and powered by coal. Our heritage is polluted by our past of conquering native lands and peoples. Our image as a political superpower was formed, in part, when we dropped atomic bombs on Japan, decimating 220,000 civilians while simultaneously creating a radioactive environment. Oil, environmental recklessness and domination run deep through America’s veins, and we continue to create a toxic legacy for ourselves.

Times are changing, and our national government’s overly-inflated ego has caused us to be left behind in many aspects of progress. America was on top not too long ago, but instead of working to keep the championship title, we have become complacent. We continue to relish in past achievements instead of utilizing momentum to move forward. Our “achievements” have left us with the title of being one of the world’s top polluters. Instead of becoming innovators of clean technology and setting an environmental precedence like other developed nations, politicians are still debating whether or not climate change exists. It is time for America to surrender the superiority complex or step up to compete with other countries who are simply doing it better.

France has recently addressed the problem of food waste and has enacted a law that requires French supermarkets to donate their food waste to charity or to animals for feed. Costa Rica has a goal to be a carbon neutral country by 2021 and already receives 95-99 percent of their power from renewables. Switzerland was rated as a top performer in 2014, earning high rankings in biodiversity and habitat protection, and is reducing their carbon footprint faster than any nation in the world. Norway and Iceland are also considered some of the most environmentally sustainable nations because of their progressive environmental policies and focus on sustainable growth. Germany receives 78 percent of their energy demands from renewable resources, and over half of the energy grid is owned by private co-ops and citizens, while energy companies only produce 12.5 percent of the country’s total energy. Russia has prevented the increase of greenhouse emissions, and President Vladimir Putin has promised a 70 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030.

Meanwhile, in America, Washington argues about environmental policy, relishes in past victories of destruction and gloats about our ability to kick other country’s asses while our world becomes dangerously warm. The vast majority of the rest of the world and more than half of Americans (59 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of Republicans) can see the implications and the connectedness of our ecological systems on a national and international level. While others are listening to the scientific evidence that links environmental and health consequences to industry and excess, the United States does not. For being a nation rich in renewable and financial resources, we have made really poor use of them.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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