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All too often, countless stories are published that highlight the extreme dangers of climate change. In California, residents have experienced the harmful side effects of global warming in the form of intense wildfires and persistent droughts. As the environment worsens, we must take a more robust approach to handling and educating citizens on the repercussions of climate change. And even more importantly, the state and federal governments must enact more effective policies that hold major corporations accountable for their massive greenhouse gas emissions.

We must modify the way we educate individuals on disaster preparedness so that it encompasses all the dangers posed by climate change. Only through this will individuals have extensive knowledge on the implications of global warming and how to mitigate it. Our education system must work rigorously to make sure that disaster readiness is incorporated more extensively in school curriculums. Introducing climate change and expanding more on its effects at an earlier age will be beneficial in getting more young people motivated to find viable solutions to this issue. 

The reality of climate change needs to be widely discussed not only on the scientific aspects of the environment, but also on its effects on our communities and infrastructure. Making sure people are aware of what could happen if we’re not careful with our planet on a more personal level is the best way to ensure readiness. Classrooms touch very lightly on climate change, or not at all, and fail to highlight the severity of the issue. If we don’t include education on how climate change intimately affects communities ー specifically low-income communities ー then the ignorance surrounding climate change will continue indefinitely. Not only that, but a more honest approach in introducing global warming will encourage younger generations to speak out against the crisis. 

In addition to a more informative education, people need to be aware of what they can do to reduce harmful emissions. Climate change is happening rapidly, and even without the occurrence of daily disasters, the effects are still present. Big corporations and a divided government are causing the most impactful harm to the environment, so the public needs to hold these individuals accountable. Everyone has a voice and the ability to advocate for legislation that supports cleaner energy solutions. Writing letters and urging local, state and federal governments are all necessary to get the message across that something must be done on a larger scale. 

There are only so many eco-friendly lifestyle choices that an individual can make, but it’s likely that these will barely make a dent in reducing the world’s carbon footprint. In order to make real progress, initiatives have to come from the government and industries. For instance, the UC pledged to make the switch to 100% clean energy by 2025, which is a fantastic step in the right direction, and other large parties should emulate this. 

The federal and state governments should also be actively funding projects and pushing for legislation that directly solves this crisis. Funds need to be extracted from the government, factories and oil wells so that we can reduce waste and set money aside for cleaner energy initiatives. Creating incentive programs for counties, such as recycling efforts with hefty grants or clean-up initiatives, would be largely successful in getting everyone involved.

Furthermore, there must be harsher policies placed on large corporations in order to restrict them from destroying the environment any more than they already have for the sake of making money. In the end, such a large issue should not be a burden placed on the everyday citizen. This is why people must continue to hold their government officials and corporations accountable for their actions. Although it’s important that everyone does their part, it’s ridiculous to ignore the fact that major corporations have been getting away with harming the environment for this long simply because the government hasn’t found the changing environment pressing enough to initiate comprehensive legislation. The complacency must stop here. There needs to be continuous light shed on the urgency and pressure that should be imposed upon these industries. 

By focusing on long-term prevention, we will be better off when dealing with spontaneous incidents when they do occur. It’s best that we continue to modify infrastructure in order to handle the changing environment whilst still making sure that we address why the environment is changing in the first place. If we continuously neglect to address the root of the problem, mere crisis management will not do anyone justice. We must be ready and come up with clear plans on how to address the long-term effects of climate change.

While making an everyday, conscious effort to recycle and reduce emissions in our own lives would make some progress, in the grand scheme of things, we cannot continue to ignore the role corporations play in harming the environment. It is not our sole responsibility alone to make sure something as huge as the environment will not continue changing. Rather, it is the job of industries and governments to modify their means of production in order to make the biggest difference. Through more thorough education and accountability, it’s likely that we are well on our way to mitigating climate change. However, we must always be aware of who has the biggest impact and responsibility in changing for the better. 


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    The Highlander editorials reflect the majority view of the Highlander Editorial Board. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Associated Students of UCR or the University of California system.