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World on Fire

Ever since fossil fuels were introduced to our industrialized society, nature has been under pressure. When fossil fuels are burned, they produce greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane; greenhouse gasses get their name due to their warming effect on the planet. The sharp increase in their usage over the past forty years has caused a hole in the ozone layer of our atmosphere, a fact you probably recall from middle or high school science class.

Climate change has caused an abundance of issues to the Earth’s health, including rising oceans, increased overall temperature, and changes in regional weather patterns. Areas that used to rarely see tornadoes have seen upticks in the past decade, and regions that saw snow once in a blue moon are seeing record highs for snowfall each year. As someone who’s lived in Pennsylvania my whole life, the past few years have seen a shockingly low amount of snow throughout winter, which has been more and more worrying.

There is frequent pressure on the general public to take action against climate change and to be more environmentally friendly, such as a decrease in plastic usage, water usage, and particular food consumption. While these are all still beneficial to the environment, the major contributors to environmental harm are corporations. Corporations are the main sources of carbon and other fossil fuel emissions, which is why governments across the world need to put more pressure on businesses to make changes in how they run things.

One of the leading causes of fossil fuel emissions is transportation, be that from personal vehicles or public transport. The transportation of resources and products by trucks, ships, and planes is the dominating perpetrator, of which large businesses and corporations are to blame.

Another leading cause of carbon emissions around the world is the fashion industry, particularly “fast fashion” companies, which take up 10% of the world’s carbon emissions (which sounds like a relatively small percentage but is a large portion compared to other sources). The main issue with fast fashion is the “fast” quality, meaning these items are disposed of at extremely high rates. According to Action for the Climate Emergency, the United States alone produces 14 million tons of clothing waste every year, and when the landfills they’re sent to fill up, all of those materials are incinerated, releasing substantial amounts of greenhouse gasses into the air and atmosphere.

Our generation has been raised on these facts and worrying statistics, being told constantly that in a few short decades, we’ll be past the point of no return. While much of the news surrounding climate change often feels incredibly bleak, we still have plenty of time for solutions, and recent years have seen stark improvements.

In 2015, 195 countries and states agreed to a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050 according to the Paris Agreement, though it calls for a vast change in how the world functions currently. Several countries have been pushing for increased usage of clean energy, such as solar and wind power, and some, such as Finland, have introduced taxes on carbon emissions to encourage companies to make a stronger effort to reduce emissions. Many countries, particularly in Europe, have made a push for electric vehicles and biking.

If we can continue to push world leaders and corporations to make changes, we could see a substantial improvement in our environment over the next few decades. In the meantime, try not to catastrophize, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to try to stop climate change as an individual; it’s the governments and corporations that need to put in the real work.

Written by Alec Conwell

Creative Direction and Production Management by Jake Pranian

Photography by Mark Bluemle

Styling by Diamond Durant

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