Dear Future President,
Currently, Hurricane Matthew is causing devastation in the Caribbean and the southeastern United States. I am worried for my cousin, who lives in southern Florida, and for the millions of people in the path of the storm. Over last summer, I remember a red tinted sky from the fires here in Southern California. Natural disasters such as these may not always be prevented, but their impact is worse than it may have been because of the world's changing climate. Fires are larger and more difficult to stop due to the drier weather, and hurricanes and flooding cause more damage because of rising sea levels.
Climate change is not a trick or hoax. It is true that the world's climates have changed before, but unlike in the past, the current shifts are due to human actions. Over 97% of scientists agree: climate change is real, and it is going to stay unless something is done.
As our President, you are now the chief executive of a country with one of the worst environmental impacts. We produce a large amount of the world's greenhouse gases and create about a third of the world's waste, yet only comprise about 5% of the world's population. However, this is also a country with potential to help halt this crisis. We can invest in clean and renewable energy sources and large projects to lessen our country's environmental impact, but I believe that the small things people do to live more environmentally friendly are extremely important as well. Americans need to learn about small changes that add up to make a significant difference.
One of the most important ways to teach people about caring for the environment is through youth environmental education. I started a composting system at a local church, and I was surprised that the people who were the least receptive to composting were the kids. I expected the elementary and middle school students to be receptive to change, or at least understand it and adjust to the composting system quickly. The opposite was true - some of them were the most stubborn people I encountered and were set in their ways. The only thing they wanted to do with their food scraps and paper plates was throw them into the trash because that is what they have been taught. When these kids grow older, their first instinct will be to throw everything away, which contributes to trash in the landfills, energy waste, and additional greenhouse gases that lead to larger problems, such as global climate change. Through education, environmental options can become habits to children. They then take these actions home to their families, creating a ripple effect of environmental change.
Children, and the population in general, need to be educated about small things they can to do protect the environment. Using a reusable water bottle instead of buying a plastic one may appear to not have much impact, but the bottle requires water, energy, and natural resources to make it. Additionally, more energy is needed to recycle it, but most likely the bottle will end up slowly decomposing over a thousand years, and even end up as minuscule particles floating in the ocean. If people know the impact of their choices, suddenly a single water bottle becomes much more important.
This is our world. Our earth. It is our duty and responsibility to protect it, for ourselves, for the millions of species who share the planet with us, and for future generations. Maybe if people know about simple changes that result in a more sustainable lifestyle, the impact can halt climate change, decrease the destruction of natural disasters, end the drought, and reduce our energy consumption.
Congratulations on becoming our President, and I hope you will do something to help preserve our earth.