Corporations are to blame for climate change

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Corporations are to blame for climate change

Heather Gann, Staff Columnist

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October has begun, and with it came my expectation of apple cider Sundays and the release of my sweaters from their SpaceSaver bag prison. As all of you can see, that is not the case this year. Today, well into the beginning of our Autumn, I am still sporting shorts and T-shirts to class, and I see others wearing much of the same. The temperatures remain so stifling that if parading around in swimsuits was socially acceptable, I am apt to believe campus would look more like Gulf Shores. Almost every teacher and student has complained about the unexpected and unwelcome warmth of these past few weeks.

In the midst of an everlasting summer such as this one, it is unreal to me that people still do not believe in global warming. It feels like the sun is present on Butler Field at band practice every day. To put it simply, this is happening because of the greenhouse effect. This is when the pollution and deforestation caused by humans emits greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into our atmosphere. 

These gases trap and absorb heat and are causing an unprecedented rise in our temperatures and leaving them two times as high as they were on average 50 years ago. There are those who like to talk about how Earth’s weather is cyclical, that this is simply another wheel in the machine and that another Ice Age may be coming along right behind it. However, National Geographic reports that the levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere have not been this concentrated in over 800,000 years. The weather is setting all kinds of new records in the meteorology world. So what do we do? Unfortunately, hydroflasks, recycling and carpooling will only get us so far.

A collection of about 100 large companies contribute to around 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The four highest of these are ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron, all of which are gas and petroleum companies. Some fault other countries due to the fact that these are international corporations, but the United States is second only to China in greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. produces 6.34 million kilotons of emissions annually. This statistic is from 2012, when the Clean Air Act was in full swing. With Trump’s new environmental policies, emissions have been rising, so who knows how many kilotons we could be at now. 

This situation seems helpless. After all, what can we as individuals due to combat these powerhouses of industry? The answer is simple: companies will not produce what people will not buy, so the answer lies in alternative forms of energy. The battle against climate change is dependent on finding new forms of energy due to the fact that 28% of our emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels and energy usage.

This may not seem like a lot, but it is more than any other single cause. The EPA has to monitor these emissions, but due to so many environmental policy changes over the last two presidencies, the guidelines are constantly in review and remain fairly lax. President Obama had created a Clean Power Plan, but that plan never got the chance to go into full effect before President Trump issued his own Affordable Clean Energy Plan.

In no way am I telling you to sell your car tomorrow and convert your home to 100% solar energy, but if every individual took small steps, like maybe not buying the huge gas-burning truck or being more involved in the global energy discussion, we could save ourselves. The key is in uniting against these huge companies for the common cause of a healthier, longer-lasting planet. All of us can agree on wanting more white Christmases and hot lattes in our lives.