Meaningful Ways We Can All Help the EnvironmentApr 01, 2021 11:06AM ● By Jared Zornitzer
Planet Earth is changing. Global warming and climate change place us and our surroundings in an increasingly precarious situation. To work toward a more promising future we must collectively make changes to our lifestyles. It will seem difficult at first, and I will be first to admit that I too will be challenged to adjust my way of life. My aim is to provide you with a realistic vision of how we can rethink our relationship with nature to better protect it.
In one of my sustainability courses at college we learned about the Cornucopian Theory, which offers technological development as a viable solution to climate change. While it certainly would be a perfect world if we could rely on scientists and engineers to fix the damage that we have inflicted upon the environment, it is naive to place this responsibility solely on professionals in the field. Instead of passively hoping that others will mend the environmental issue, we can play a role in devising lasting solutions if we embrace these simple, yet different ideas.
There are two major shifts in mindset that we can begin to cultivate as a society. First, we often believe that nature is separate from us. We view it as something totally distinct from our daily lives; a place that we escape to. Rather, nature is all around us. It is the air that we breathe and the trillions of cells that make up our bodies. It is woven into our most rudimental instincts of love, survival and comradery. By closing the gap between nature and society, we are more likely to observe how the environment is deteriorating. This, in turn, should motivate us to safeguard it.
The second important concept is “the tragedy of the commons”. Ecologist Garrett Hardin coined the phrase to illustrate that our natural world’s resources, including the environment, are finite, yet we are unaware of how our individual actions impact our common pool. How can one person’s choices really make a difference? The choices of one person may seem insignificant, however, the impact of seven billion individuals’ choices leads to tragedy. If we process the fact that each of us has our own ecological footprint, we can then make constructive changes to our lives, such as purchasing environment-friendly, locally sourced products or reducing our rates of consumption.
There are many avenues for adopting small-scale means of reducing one’s impact on the environment. If the transition seems daunting, seek support from those who can provide ideas, insight and encouragement. If we devote our time and energy toward preserving the environment, then we can live harmoniously with this beautiful companion.
Jared Zornitzer is a full-time college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY studying engineering. An advocate of balancing work and school with exercise and healthy living, he loves hiking, biking, running, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and learning in his classes.