- ASC presents Take 6, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Dec. 15
- Leeth named UAB School of Medicine assistant dean for strategic planning
- Coping with holiday grief
- New water plan saves big money
- Campus police offer holiday safety tips
- Alys Stephen Center Screens Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
- Hospital feeds underprivileged new moms
- UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents Yo-Yo Ma Dec. 6
- Southern Miss tops Blazers, 62-27, in season ending game
- Henry Panion selected for 2014 Alabama African-American History Calendar
- Enjoy Christmas at the Alys Dec. 2, “The Season’s First Jingle”
- Engineering’s Ning wins ASTM International award
- Collat School of Business unveils sign at celebration
- Heudebert elected master by American College of Physicians
- Anti-aging strategies can improve more than looks
VIEWPOINT: Fighting climate change
We live in a polluted world: factories, cars, airplanes, and most machines that make our lives easier emit several byproducts into the air around us that are harmful to our wellbeing. Greenhouse gases have seeped into our atmosphere and are depleting the ozone layer and increasing the temperature of our planet. Earth’s health and sustainability are in question. The greatest problem is that many people still refuse to acknowledge that the planet is gradually warming and that pollution levels are too high. Making a change for the improvement of our environment is difficult to achieve when people don’t believe there is a problem.
Since the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, air quality around the United States has increased in many cities because emissions have been regulated. The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts have been beneficial. However, the standard we are holding ourselves to is not going to help us move forward. A comparison to the past is the wrong measure because the living conditions were far less than ideal, so saying that we have improved from uninhabitable to slightly habitable isn’t exactly something to celebrate. What we should ask ourselves is if the air and water around us is healthy enough for us to breath in and drink? Just because we are capable in living in an environment, doesn’t mean that we should be.
The city of Birmingham is a prime example of a polluted city that has improved since the passing of the Clean Air and Water Acts. The city’s air has failed 2 out of 3 categories: ozone and particle pollution. The prevalence of asthma, allergies, and respiratory illnesses is high in urban areas that have not slashed emissions of pollutants to very low levels.
Globally, climate change panels have been held, but no standard has been achieved for emissions. Every country has its own best interests at heart that trump the best interests of the planet. The United Nations has taken a step towards fighting climate change. Last week, the UN Climate Change Panel endorsed a ceiling on emissions. The United Nations proposing a plan is different from the various treaties and agreements signed in years past. These treaties and agreements are virtually meaningless because many a time the countries that drafted the agreements refused to sign them. The United States is notorious for not abiding by literature that its own leaders helped draft. For example, the Kyoto Protocol was signed, but Congress never ratified it.
When the United Nations suggests something, however, there is a greater chance that countries will obey the standards because they are at risk for sanctions or other repercussions. Also, the leaders of the United Nations should, at least idealistically, have the interest of the planet above the interest of individual nations. With temperatures gradually increasing, the melting of polar ice caps, the acidifying of oceans, and larger amounts of pollution, it is about time for the United Nations to make a move. It still remains to be seen whether or not countries will follow the UN’s lead and attempt to revive the earth’s health.
By: Natasha Mehra