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Medio Ambiente

I'm Selfish . . . That's Why I Want to Save the Planet

Por Nohan Meza
April 2023
Did you know? We are less than seven years away from the so-called “point of no return” in which, due to the environmental footprint caused by human beings, the planet will be permanently impacted by irreversible changes. Our actions and choices in the upcoming decade will decide the fate of our planet, and if it will be habitable for humans in the near future.
One of the biggest mistakes we made in the battle for climate change was this concept of “Save the Earth.” In the 4.5 billion-year history since our planet’s inception, the planet Earth, this pale blue dot we call our home has been struck five times by mass extinctions in the form of ice ages, asteroid, volcanic lava, and has survived and persevered through vast eons with little to no sign of life. The truth of the matter is that the planet was never in danger—what was truly at risk was us, humanity. 

And of course, it is due to us that our planet is becoming uninhabitable for the millions of species with whom we share the Earth, an effect showcased through the acidification of the oceans, air pollution, melting permafrost, and a vast increase in natural disasters such as the forest fires in California, and the devastating hurricane seasons in the South of the country. But today I want to only focus on us. 

Studies in the last ten years have given rise to what is known as the Climate Clock, which indicates the amount of time we have remaining in order to reduce global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels. In the event that we shrug our shoulders and stay with business as usual, the Climate Clock model indicates that, “the average global surface temperature would likely reach 3-4°C by 2100 with catastrophic (and permanent) impacts on humanity and the biosphere, including: floods, droughts, mass extinctions, permanently uninhabitable regions, billions of climate refugees, and 100s of millions dead.”

In order to prevent this catastrophe and keep global temperature below 1.5°C, we have to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by half by 2030 and achieve what is called “net zero” meaning 0 total C02 emissions globally by 2050. The only way for this to happen is through a paradigm shift at a legislative and economic level which will require the support of every single human that quite simply believes in a future. 

But where does this pollution come from? Does it really matter if you throw away a soda can in the blue trash can or not? Yes and no. As reported by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), 71% percent of industrial green-house gas emissions (GHG) come from only 100 companies. This measurement also includes what is called “scope 3” emissions, which refers to emissions caused not by the company itself but what it is indirectly responsible for, such as the use and disposal of their products and emissions from other organizations they might collaborate with. 

This does not mean that we are not responsible for the trash we make. It might actually make us more responsible because we, as consumers, are given the choice to “vote with our money” as they say, and reject products and companies that continue to use excessive plastic and refuse to shift their business practices in a direction that builds a sustainable future. If as consumers we reject certain sectors, certain values, then as a whole those values and sectors will have to change. After all, their survival depends on our willingness to pay for what they produce. 

So yes, this whole “save the planet” narrative depends on every person building our future reality together. To create a sustainable world in which we can cohabit with the rest of the residents of this planet, we need to create radical change in our mode of living, and for us to build that reality through our ability to vote, both through political and economic means in order to save a future for ourselves. After all, we are all part of one interconnected ecosystem, one home—and a tiny one in the vast expanse of space, at that. But today I’m not asking for us to save the planet. 

I’m asking us to save ourselves.


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