We Decide Our Future


Imagine this…Dust covers the ground as a family trudges through the sand looking for shade. The sweltering sun burns down on their skin as the wind sweeps up the dust and tumbles it around. They stand deserted on a tiny patch of land, as the water rises to their feet. The once clear blue water is now black and muggy, probably polluted. A small patch of land. A remnant from what once was sprawling islands filled with beautiful palm trees and warm sand. What has become of it now? 

To better understand the difficult decision of choosing between the economy and the environment, one must understand the root cause of the problem, the current state of world affairs, and then examine solutions to benefit all humanity. After focusing on these areas of analysis it becomes clear that preserving the environment is critical to keep a stable economy. 

In the beginning of the seventeenth-century, the British pioneered colonialism and prospered. Western European countries such as France, Spain, Portugal, England, and Germany, benefited from colonies in Africa, Asia, and South America, which were exploited for their natural resources and cheap labor. Colonial powers industrialized faster with the discovery of fossil fuels in these colonies, leading to the Industrial Revolution and growth in human productivity and economy. Western Europe and newly emerged North America imported gas, oil, and coal from Africa, Asia, and South America.The Industrial Revolution and two World Wars led to the substantial use of fossil fuels from the colonies to advance the countries in Western Europe and North America. Economic prosperity was central to the dominance of each country. This translated to hyper industrialization and over use of natural resources to improve productivity. 

Fast forward to the present day, and one begins to see the devastating effects from the seventeenth-century exploitation. Globally, people are using seventy-percent more resources

each year than the Earth can regenerate (Global Footprint Network). Much of the global south that was colonized still suffers from deforestation and land degradation. While wealthier countries who previously prospered are living comfortably, countries used for their resources are left facing the forefront of climate change. Colonies stripped of their resources and left without means to defend their communities face the ever growing disaster that is climate change. Wealthy nations used these places, took everything from them, then left without giving anything back, causing the poor countries to become reliant on wealthy ones since they were never given the education required to become self-sufficient. Now, these developing nations have to work to become self-reliant. Some are now industrialized, for example, Bangladesh, relying on the usage of fossil fuels to try and become economically stable. On the contrary, more developed nations have already reached this economic stability decades ago. Now, they are trying to slowly change the way that their industrialization has worked by transitioning into renewable energy such as wind, water, and solar energy. While the economies that sky-rocketed during colonialism are working to reduce carbon emissions, the poorer economies are working to reach the same level of growth by profiting off of the use of fossil fuels since they do not have the capital to buy, use, or create renewable technology. However, this gap is not anywhere near closing. These rich countries are over-emitting carbon, as well as over-consuming. On average, a person in the US uses six times more resources than a person in Africa (Global Footprint Network). 

In both the past and the present, the world economy has been highly reliant on the status of the environment. However, humanity is quickly entering a stage in which the environment is deteriorating so rapidly that there may not be much of an economy to consider. The future environment, and in turn, the economy, can both be saved by taking into account various solutions. The first step to stability would be to provide technology and education for less developed countries. In doing so, not only does this help these lower-income areas become self-sufficient, it also increases the efficiency of the goods being produced, essentially helping the countries that import products. This creates a situation in which both nations benefit from and starts to slowly close the gap between less developed and more developed areas. After introducing much needed technology, the second step would be to retrain workers from non renewable industries, such as fracking, oil, gas, and coal industries, to shift into the renewable technology industries. By reeducating these people, it certifies that the shift into green tech does not cause any job loss, instead it opens up new jobs and industries. Following this renewable shift, the final step to reaching neutrality would be to invest in green technology and start consuming less energy by making the conscious decision to do so. Recent innovations such as electric and hydrogen power cars, give hope for people to start living greener. Solar panels, windmills, and green hydrogen are all examples of how humanity is evolving. People must start to consider the importance and urgency of this shift. If countries continue to further delay this problem, the economy is sure to face long-term devastations in the near decades. By taking action now, they can ensure a healthy environment along with a stable economy. 

A family stands where the sands meet the sea, with their feet engulfed in the warm, fine sand. Slow waves brush the sand off and recede, creating a glimmer on the brilliant, clear, blue water. Palm trees sway gently with the breeze as the setting sun overlooks the beach. A tropical paradise. Preserved and thriving. This is the future available to all of humanity. If the Earth is to 

see its golden beaches, sprawling rainforests, and lucious mountains, humanity needs to act now.