Environmental consciousness is more than just a trend

Garrison Ebie

Stacie Morgan and Kallie Loudon take turns being moveable mannequins in an improvisation dance class. Lauren Crist | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

“Go Green:” two words that have been driven into the ground by a million pounds of garbage, CO2 emissions and trendy consumerism.

Sure, plenty of folks don’t give two hoots about the environment, but these days it seems like the cool thing to do. The environmentally aware appear educated and well-rounded, and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to look smart?

As much as I have a distaste for things that are fashionable, if fashion is what it takes for people to turn a light off when they’re not in the room or recycle their empty beer cans, then bravo. At least we’re beginning to take some baby steps in repairing this dirty, godforsaken hunk of rock we call Earth.

Go buy a hybrid car, go buy some carbon credits, go buy some energy-efficient light bulbs and by all means, make sure you only buy that organic lettuce from the co-op. Blah blah blah. The capitalist model has finally found a way to profit off its own negligence.

I for one do not want to be known as a member of the generation who destroyed this planet’s ecosystem. We’re already the main contributors to Earth’s greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs got blown away 65 million years ago. That may seem a little jarring at first, but it’s very true. Thanks to habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution and a dozen other factors, more plant and animal species have vanished in the last 10,000 years than at any other point since the Jurassic period.

This has never been completely attributed to the carbon dioxide problem. Global warming certainly does get the majority of headlines, but that’s only because half of Americans live within 50 miles of the coast. They sure don’t want to see their houses sitting under a few feet of saltwater anytime soon. But despite your stance on global warming, it’s impossible not to notice that humans have caused a little more than a small crack in Earth’s windshield.

As I write this, a heap of trash the size of Texas is floating stagnantly in the Pacific Ocean. Someone told me this one day, and I thought, “Oh, this must be another one of your exaggerated theories you read on the Internet.”

But no, this thing is for real. It even has a name. The North Pacific subtropical gyre (better known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) is composed mostly of diffused plastic particles that formed from the clockwise flow of ocean currents. Think about how toys in the bathtub sometimes end up all clustered together. It’s sort of like that, except this weighs about 3.5 million tons with a density six times that of all the plankton in the same area.

In more general terms, it’s just a lot of trash in the ocean that outnumber things that are actually alive.

Obviously, many more examples exist of what humans have done to further tarnish Earth. If you’ve gotten this far in my opinion article, you can probably already think of a few. I don’t need to discuss that any further. We just need to respect our spinning ball of rock or else some odd species of space aliens will probably start laughing at us when we’re all dead and gone. I don’t want that.

Now, call me a glass-half-empty type of person, but as catastrophic as it may be, I’ve always thought a second massive bubonic plague would be quite beneficial to our society as a whole. Three billion people take up far fewer resources than six billion. Instantaneously, we could cut carbon emissions in half, cut lumber consumption in half, take up half as much space and produce half as many materials that don’t biodegrade and will still be around when the sun goes supernova.

For all the science junkies out there, I know it’s more complicated than that, but I’m just trying to prove a point. Agent Smith had it pretty accurate in “The Matrix.” We’re not much more than a virus that wears shoes.

Garrison Ebie is a senior electronic media production major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].