The burden of climate change wrongly placed on individuals

Holding a magnifying glass to the environmental faults of large corporations

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Isaac Xiong

Climate Change: Kirstin Olson, a science teacher at Lake Stevens High School, is rather intrigued about climate change. K. Olson has considered climate change one of the biggest problems humans have to deal with. “I believe that if nothing is done to mitigate our impacts, we are in for dramatic changes in our climate on every part of the planet. But despite all the doom and gloom, I’m still hopeful. We as humans are incredible innovators and have the capacity to alter our behavior and adapt as things change, but it’s going to take all of us working together on a global scale to make sure that happens,” Olson said.

Our society places a strong burden on everyday people for exactly what causes climate change: individual impact. We have somehow been brainwashed into believing that our reckless recycling skills, fast fashion dependency and endless meat consumption is the end-all be-all cause of global warming. Although those examples do influence the way that our Earth protects itself (from humans’ never-ending damage), they aren’t the biggest contributors.
Big corporations have the biggest impact on our planet. Even within the individualistic faults such as fast fashion dependency and dairy/meat consumption, those issues are STILL to blamed from the companies themselves. Fast fashion is advertised heavily in media, hence why fast fashion companies are the biggest distributors of clothing in the world. Unethical farms thrive off of our need for protein, which conveniently can “only” come from cows, chickens, pigs, etc. When these companies are given power, even through unethical practices, they will take advantage of said power. Every. Single. Time.
Senior Miya Decaro has learned through her own research the damage that these giant corporations are causing.
“Something that made me realize [individuals aren’t completely to blame] was trying so hard to be eco-friendly. As I did more and more research, the more I realized that the difference I could make was really quite minor when corporations are consciously destroying the earth with fracking and much more. Following so many environmental movements that tried to get oil and other corporations to recognize what they were doing, I realized that it’s [the companies] that are the problem, and until the government steps in, nothing is going to really change. That doesn’t mean that average people can’t make a difference though; while it may be minor, it still helps,” Decaro said.
How is it, though, that we can hold these companies accountable? While many solutions have been drawn up, it’s more about putting them in action.
“The best way to hold corporations accountable is making laws. The people have only so much power. The best that they can do is boycott, and even that isn’t necessarily reasonable or plausible. The only thing that can really make a difference is the government,” Decaro said.
In a government-controlled country, and even world, it can feel IMPOSSIBLE for any change to be really made. It can be defeating to know that we ourselves can’t have any sort of huge impact on the climate. Boycotting plastic straws won’t magically clean up our oceans. We know this. But, what we must realize is that once everyone gets on the bandwagon, things will change indefinitely.
It’s important to recognize that even with corporations’ large presence in climate change, and most environmental issues in general, we must also hold ourselves accountable. Collective change equals permanent change, as we’ve learned throughout history (think the women’s movement, Black Lives Matter, etc.).
“We need to stop being selfish. Just because it’s a problem that might not affect you, at least right now, doesn’t mean you should watch idly as people and animals suffer. Speak out, do what you can. Everything helps,” Decaro said.