Minnie S. Michigan

Our Environment

There are many problems facing the world today, and we are working our hardest to solve them. However, one major problem may overshadow many others in the long run: protecting the environment that has given us life.

To the next President of the United States,

In many cases, it is human nature to look more at the short term than the long term. Staying up late and regretting it the next day, procrastinating on assignments until the day before they’re due, pushing off responsibilities until it’s too late; all situations we know well. This is what is happening with arguably the most important issue to humans and life in general: saving the environment. Perhaps “save” isn’t the correct word, as humans have already inflicted much, perhaps irreversible, damage onto the planet. What we can do is slow the damage and try our best to erase what damage we can.

One of the more specific problems under the broad topic of "environment" is the massive consumption of fresh water. In the article “Water Wars: The Next Great Driver of Global Conflict?” from The National Interest magazine, the topic of water wars is discussed. This may not be something we, in America, think as much about, because we are a first-world country with access to an abundance of resources many other countries cannot afford. The article touches on many important points. First, it discusses the hope that since water wars have not happened before, they will not happen in the future. However, the future is a vastly different place than the past. With the rate we are consuming resources and the amount of waste that we produce, it is undeniable that the world from the past can be no more. In fact, humans produce 1600 million tons of household waste per year, and that number is predicted to double by 2030 (The World Counts). Another point the article touches on is that we may be entering a new age because the effect humans have had on the Earth’s natural cycles has been so great. The most important feature of this new age is an unstable climate, as seen already in the rise of natural disasters such as wildfires, droughts, and floods. The resource that links all of these natural disasters is one that is invaluable and underappreciated, one vital to the very existence of life: water. Fresh water. Already we see groundwater reservoirs being consumed faster than they can be replenished. The number of people living in extremely water scarce environments is predicted to increase from 1 billion now to 3.9 billion in 2030 (OECD 5). What we’re looking at is an uncertain, unstable, and devastating problem with fresh water that has the potential to turn into a deadly and worldwide conflict.

The people that will be most affected by the deterioration of the environment are the ones that have no ability to prevent it from happening; the next generation. That is why we have a responsibility to discuss and find solutions to the problem now. America, as a developed country and one with more influence than many others, has the responsibility to lead the international conversation on the future conservation and replenishment of water and its utilization. America has the responsibility to lead the international conversation on the future, period. That future starts with the environment. This conversation can begin with stricter regulation on environmental emissions for companies/factories, environmental taxes, or even raising more awareness for the problem; anything is better than nothing. There is no downside to starting the conversation and every downside to remaining silent until the problem reaches a critical point, with no turning back.

Of course there are other current issues and I truly don’t mean to undermine their importance or value. However, if we don’t take action fast for environmental protection, perhaps by the time those current issues are solved, we may not have a habitable planet to live on with those solved issues anymore. That is why we need to take action now to try and lessen the damage we have invoked on our planet.

Thank you,

Minnie Sun

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Okemos High School

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