Protecting the Environment: Not Just for Tree-Huggers

written by Victoria Lee
NOTE: JSA is a nonpartisan organization. This is just one opinion from one of our writers. We will be covering a wide range of topics that will illustrate various political beliefs, and neither JSA nor The Patriot is promoting specific political parties.
This is a response to an article posted by the Washington Post (see link below).
It is no surprise that many have begun to criticize the cabinet appointments Donald Trump has been making; one particularly absurd choice that stood out to many was his nomination of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA. In the past, Pruitt has actively fought the regulations set by the EPA and has also questioned the existence of climate change and the connection that it has to human activity, making him a rather alarming and different choice. This article, written by former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, clarifies that the regulations set by the EPA are essential and should not be revoked, as they impact not only the beauty of the environment but the quality of human life and health as well, and working towards safeguarding the environment can actually stimulate and benefit the economy rather than hinder it. I believe that Whitman makes various excellent points, from noting that a deterioration in the environment would actually end up costing more money as living spaces become wastelands, to explaining how the ultimate purpose of protecting the environment is to protect ourselves from the harmful impact an unregulated corporation may impose.
It irks me that people like Trump and Pruitt believe these environmental protection laws to be simply an obstacle, and how saving the environment in general has become associated with some sort of tree-hugging hippie-like caricature and is thus no longer the priority of most people’s’ lives. I believe that Whitman did an excellent job of highlighting why we need these regulations, referencing how they were initially formed back in the 1970s out of public demand, since resources such as the air and water were being polluted due to a lack of laws in place. I believe that often times, people forget that the environmental regulations enacted are for their own benefit, not simply just to make things more difficult for businesses. Furthermore, Whitman makes an excellent point, criticizing how activists often push the message that humans have caused climate change all by themselves, which is not true; climate change has always occurred without human influence, but we’ve definitely altered the natural changes that the Earth is used to handling. However, when advocates for the environment argue that we have caused all of the damage, people like Pruitt can step in and assert that humans cannot possibly be responsible for all the changes in our climate.
Furthermore, Whitman cites a very intriguing fact, commenting how the electricity demand grew by 27 percent between 1990 and 2012, and yet we doubled our GDP and reduced our pollutants by 68 percent. Clearly, making an effort to preserve the environment can save us money if we are sensible and not lazy about it. This makes a lot of sense to me, because although an indifference to the environment may be easier and cheaper for us now, if we continue to neglect the state of our environment, we will end up paying much more for the cost of damages and for the price of human lives. Hopefully, Mr. Pruitt will come to his senses soon and continue to push the progress we’ve achieved with the EPA in the past few years.


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