Editor’s Note: Stop blaming people when corporations kill the planet

By Blaise Mesa, Co-Editor-in-Chief

I spun around in my chair a few times thinking about what to write for my first editor’s note. This note is the first thing you see when you open the paper and my first address to the readers as co-editor-in-chief. I decided it should be about a topic affecting everyone in my generation—the climate crisis.

The planet has 11 years before global warming becomes irreversible. In 11 years, I’ll be 32 and would prefer to not watch the beginning of a dystopian society where the oceans boil. So I was pleased to see a seven-hour town hall dedicated to climate solutions on CNN. But I was disappointed to hear certain responses from candidates.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) was applauded for her “moderate” approach on the climate crisis and suggested individuals reduce their monthly electric bill to save the planet. She proposed encouraging individuals to compete with their neighbors to conserve the most energy.

As someone with two roommates and a $56 electric bill, I can assure you this is not the right approach.

The climate crisis is an international catastrophe that must be dealt with aggressively. While everyone should strive to reduce their carbon footprint, Klobuchar’s proposal shifts the blame from profit-hungry corporations onto individuals, ignoring the many ways corporations poison our planet.

A 2017 report by Carbon Majors Database found 100 companies are responsible for 71% percent of global emissions. Even if many Americans were able to significantly reduce their monthly electric bill, their efforts would be in vain.

However, Klobuchar wasn’t the only candidate to place blame on people rather than corporations. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) shied away from putting restrictions on the meat industry—an industry that contributed to the Amazon rainforest fires and deforestation.

Humans do have the capability to improve the environment. In July, Ethiopians planted 350 million trees in one day. Although, planting more trees could help. An April 17 article by CNN estimates 1 trillion trees should be planted to reverse the climate crisis.

It would be more feasible to go after wasteful corporations and address environmental issues through policy changes.

If all 7 billion people on Earth made fundamental lifestyle changes, we could combat the climate crisis. But what would be easier: getting 7 billion people to change or imposing restrictions on a few hundred companies?

I applaud Klobuchar and the candidates for having a seven-hour town hall to address the crisis. The dedication to the issues gives me hope for the future of our planet.

But candidates must propose aggressive policies and programs to address the crisis, not neighborhood competitions in the hopes of change.

Candidates such as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)—who proposed a ban on all plastics, including plastic straws— should get more praise for their ideas.

It’s beyond frustrating to see candidates applauded for moderate approaches when well-executed big ideas have been successful across the globe.

When there was a hole in the Ozone Layer, the solution was not to get individuals to stop using aerosols. Instead, the solution was limiting chlorofluorocarbons—a chemical that was used in aerosol cans that depleted the Ozone Layer.

If we stay on track, the Ozone could be completely healed by 2060.

Every day, the Earth tries to x itself, but humans continually get in the way. Humans should always strive for a smaller carbon footprint, but individuals are not only to blame. By properly addressing these issues at the federal level, we can fend o the doomsday predictions and give a future to my generation, and those who follow.

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