October 1, 2018
Dear LoMA Family,
In your science and social studies classes, you will be learning about the destruction of the environment through trash, the use of carbon fuels, and the misuse of natural resources. The most significant and dangerous result of all of this is global warming, which is leading to the destruction of many species of plants and animals, worsening storms like Sandy and Hurricane Florence, and rising sea levels which could put much of New York City under water in your lifetimes. Unfortunately, as these effects are not generally visible on a daily basis, it is far too easy for people to stick their heads in the sand until the rising water drowns them.
One reason why so many people ignore the growing threat is that most of it is caused by businesses and individuals that profit off of carbon fuels. Oil remains the largest business in the world and oil companies will lose profit if people buy more energy efficient cars, use renewable fuels like solar and wind power, and diminish their electric use. Except for reducing electric usage, most of the decisions about these things seem to be beyond our control, and so too many people fool themselves into saying: it’s not my problem.
It is definitely the problem of government, but too many politicians are not doing anything about it. One reason for this is that some businessmen, who have made billions of dollars from oil, legally pay off politicians to set policies that support more, not less, usage of coal and oil. For instance, while Obama restricted oil drilling, set higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and subsidized renewable fuels, Trump has reversed these orders in order to build up the oil industry. State, local, and foreign governments, however, are continuing to cut back on carbon fuels and are subsidizing renewable fuel sources like wind farms and solar fuels. As this all can be confusing, it is up to citizens to learn what their politicians are doing and vote for those who will save the planet.
There is, however, no reason for you to wait before you make a difference. The decisions you make now have more consequences than you may realize. You can turn off lights when not being used, conserve water when you brush your teeth and shower, and not buy stupid stuff. To me, on the top of the list of stupid stuff is bottled water. Worldwide people drink a million bottles of water every minute. The energy involved in making the plastic bottles made from nearly one billion gallons of oil a year, filling them and then shipping them by truck to your local store wastes a massive amount of fossil fuels. Then, after just a few minutes we throw out the empties which have to be transported to dumps where they can take 1000 years to decompose. And why do we do this when taste tests show that it tastes no better and is no healthier than tap water as tap water is more heavily tested for purity than bottled water?
Now, New York City is doing something about this. The NYC Department of Sustainability, working with the makers of the world’s coolest water bottle company, is giving away fancy and fashionable S’well water bottles to all of our students. We are trying to get a chilled water filter set up, but in the meantime, do what I do and fill it with good old NYC tap water. Think of it as a first step in helping the planet.