Warriors on the Issues: Fighting for the environment

Many of those in past generations have the luxury to not care about the impending doom of the environment. Whether they are approaching the final years of their life, or simply enjoy the profit from Big Oil Supermajors far too much, they simply ignore the environment. Some deny climate change, others act so slowly that progress becomes nonexistent. Although relying on fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses may seem enticing and easy, the leaders of today and of the future must find, produce, and utilize alternatives to sustain this planet we call home.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 signaled to many around the world that perhaps oil and fossil fuels were resources of the past. For many of those born in generation Z, the oil spill was more reason for change.

At the time of the spill, many Americans called for government tax breaks for corporations and businesses that relied on renewable energy. Stanford University issued a poll to 1,000 randomly selected American citizens between June 1 and June 7 of 2010, during the time of the spill. Although only 75% opposed taxes on gas and energy consumption to urge conservation, 84% of them approved of tax breaks to encourage the use of wind, solar and water power.

For some time, BP maintained their research and development departments on renewable energy. Eventually, BP pulled funding once the public eye focused on other, more pressing topics. The Guardian writes, “BP pumped billions of pounds into low-carbon technology and green energy over a number of decades but gradually retired the programme to focus almost exclusively on its fossil fuel business, the Guardian has established. … The energy efficiency programme employed 4,400 research scientists and R&D support staff at bases in Sunbury, Berkshire, and Cleveland, Ohio, among other locations, while $8bn was directly invested over five years in zero- or low-carbon energy. But almost all of the technology was sold off and much of the research locked away in a private corporate archive.”

Although disappointing, the ultimate decision of BP truly should surprise no one. BP, among others in Big Oil, simply disregarded the environment and its health for economic profit.

Luckily, renewable energy stocks continue to rise. In pop culture, PayPal founder Elon Musk’s Tesla car company has become a new symbol of status, luxury, and being eco-friendly. Popular renewable energy stocks and companies have been on the rise, while unsuccessful ones have been evaluated and since disregarded. The Frankfurt School publication Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment shows that from 2014 to 2015, solar investments increased 12%, while wind increased 4%. Other more experimental renewable energy sources, such as geothermal and biofuels experienced negative growth upon their investments.

As a high schooler, my generation truly has the ability to determine the fate of our planet. Sure, we could flatline all alternative energy progress, maintain decent profit, and pray that the next generation, our children, can handle our issues. Relying on fossil fuels would be so easy for us to do.

Yet, we truly should not. We, unlike past generations, have not the luxury to brush off our responsibilities for protecting and maintaining the environment and climate of our planet. Although it may be hard to initiate, we truly must take a proactive stand on the environment. Whether it is cutting foreign oil dependence, smart tax breaks, further carbon taxes, mandating electric cars, rigorous and unforgiving factory inspections, or more global summits such as the Kyoto Protocol, we, the future of this planet, must take a stance on the environment and climate change.

Randy Ramirez is president of the Wilton High School Model Congress. He is a member of the Class of 2017.