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Celebrating Earth Day Everyday

Holly Hatcher, News Editor

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Welp. It looks like we’re going to need an oxygen mask and some SPF 50 sunscreen come the apocalypse.

Does this sound familiar? Your school holds an assembly for Earth Day expressing the importance of saving the environment. As they continue to show proof of destruction caused in natural environments, you begin to pay homage to the ruined land. Upon the end of the assembly, you are inspired to help the environment. You want to stop global warming, save plants, save animals, and save humanity. As the day goes on and begins to end, you may not have given it much thought. How am I going to help the environment? You do homework, watch TV, whatever. And time slips by, just as well as the idea to help the environment does. What can one scrawny teenager do anyway? We’ve messed up the world so much, destruction is inevitable. I can’t stop it. Then you go on with your life, happy-go-lucky, with a simple “whoops” next time your teachers ask if you’ve been conserving resources, or recycling, or helping in any way at all.

And people do think that a lot. I’m guilty of it. What I said before, with the apocalypse, that was a joke. But, truly, that could happen the way we’re going.

Carbon dioxide levels are rising, and the ozone layers wearing away. We certainly might need more oxygen in the future, or something more to protect us from the UV rays.

And here’s where our problem lies. We feel as though it’s inevitable. We are not going to be able to stop the destruction that we’ve caused. We’ve gone too far, and it’s too late. Surely you’ve heard about the greenhouse effect, and theories of global warming. And we know for a fact that people are cutting down the rainforests essential to our life on Earth. We know for a fact that animals are being poached into extinction, habitats are being lost, deforestation is wreaking havoc, and we need to do something about it. Conserve resources, plants, and animals. Are we conserving, though? Some of these disasters can be stopped and reversed. Some of them are bound to happen and will only get worse. But that does not by any means mean that we can’t slow them down. We can only slow them down if we start now.

How many of you have been to Disney World? As you may know, I am a complete geek when it comes to Disney, and I know everything about it. Disney World isn’t just for little kids. Whether you believe that or not, there is definitely one part that can inspire children, teenagers, and adults alike.

Within Disney World there are four parks, as you may very well know. They are Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios. There are themes that go along with each park that they want to get across to you, for example, Magic Kingdom is all about dreaming and following those dreams.

Animal Kingdom and EPCOT are the parks that give you one of the most important things to take away.

The world is facing many hardships. The potential of global warming, the increase in natural disasters, extreme weather patterns, the wearing away of the ozone layer, deforestation, poaching, extinction, rising sea levels, and more. Well, my goodness, we thought the people preparing for doomsday were crazy, but maybe they have a point.

Animal Kingdom is focused specifically on the conservation of plants and animals in their hardships. Oftentimes we will associate plants with saving the environment, and we forget that animals are essential too. There is actually a part of Animal Kingdom called Rafiki’s Planet Watch that shows you all of the different animals, their impacts, and what we can do to help them (and there’s a petting zoo).

But why would animals matter? It’s not like animals can change anything crucially important. Think again. When Yellowstone National Park was first established, the wolves in the park started hunting down the elk and bison. Concerned about the populations of the herbivores, authorities eliminated the wolf population. It backfired instantly. With less wolves to eat animals such as beavers, the beavers built more dams. This blocked the water in rivers from naturally irrigating the trees and grasslands, which caused all of the trees to die. The near extinction of the natural food sources of herbivores then started a massive decrease in elk and bison population. Only adding more wolves back balanced the ecosystem again. It’s the perfect example of trophic cascade and the importance of apex predators.

EPCOT is sometimes considered even more into saving the environment than Animal Kingdom. Do you know what EPCOT stands for? Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Wow.

When you first enter the park, you are faced with the Future World section, set on making innovation and conservation a common goal. Further in is the World Showcase, where diversity is encouraged by means of representation of eleven different countries.

It’s Future World that focuses on environmentalism most. Its main attraction, Spaceship Earth, is about learning from the past and advancing towards the future as a whole, including expanding conservation efforts. And when you ride Test Track, you get to design a car. The ride is about testing that car, partially on efficiency to see if it saves fuel and is environmentally friendly. Not to mention The Circle of Life short film you can watch, teaching kids about stopping pollution and global warming. But the biggest showcase of helping the environment is at a center in EPCOT called The Land.

The Land features two restaurants, Sunshine Seasons and Garden Grill, with food made in majority from the harvest of their crops, which can be seen on the ride Living with the Land. Living with the Land shows you the importance of the environment and the plants, how we are ultimately dependent on them. It also explains more efficient ways you can farm in the modern world, including focus on aquaculture, aeroponics, nutrient film, and vertical growing techniques. All of this produce, always fresh, healthy, and clean, can be harvested by the ton for use as a supplier of many of Disney’s own restaurants. It may sound boring, but it is vital to the future of agriculture which we so depend on. Even the walls are decked out in inspirational quotes by children — kids as young as five, I might add — about saving the environment.

It’s not just Disney expressing the importance of this matter. Charities, organizations, activists, and foundations exist all over the world to stop us from worsening the environment further.

Rapper and activist Prince EA produced a serious rap about helping the environment, and what happens when we don’t. “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” discusses the fact that rainforests, habitats to billions of unique species and providers of most of the world’s oxygen, are being cut down this second.

Programs all over the nation at schools are all about the environment, for example the Lexus Eco Challenge encouraging students to take part in helping the environment, whether that be producing less greenhouse gasses and pollution, saving trees, saving animals, or something else.

It’s even in the media! Movies such as WALL-E, The Lorax, Bee Movie and Snowpiercer. Books such as Saving Wonder and Ship Breaker. Even video games like Zoo Tycoon! They all exemplify themes of saving the environment, some very directly, and some just taking place in a world already ravaged by the destruction of the environment.

You’ve heard this sort of stuff all of your life, right? This “save the environment” stuff has been going on so long. Who cares? It hasn’t gotten any better or worse. Has it? Actually, it has.

Think about endangered animals. So many beautiful creatures essential to a healthy environment are becoming extinct. There are nine subspecies of tiger, and three of them are extinct. The rest are all endangered or critically endangered. Even the bees that pollinate our food are dying. These beautiful animals given to us by God are just gone. Never to be seen again. And it’s our fault. Deforestation and poaching, much? It’s still important today, because so many animal populations are still decreasing. Recently, researchers have requested the IUCN Red List to move cheetahs from a conservation status of “vulnerable” to “endangered.” Could you seriously imagine a good world without cheetahs? Or tigers? Or lions, rhinos, or elephants? Poachers even broke into a French zoo in March, killed the endangered white rhinoceros, and took its horns. That’s the equivalent of getting murdered for your toenails (human nails and rhinoceros horns are both made of keratin).

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Seriously, you can do anything to help the environment right now. Join an organization, donate to a cause, don’t use electricity to blow dry your hair for thirty minutes — anything! Quit blowing off the fact that the environment needs saving, commit yourself to helping, and take action.

For something to think about, remember this quote from Dr. Seuss: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

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