Destructive pollutants threaten the future

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Photo by Gabby Cano

Compost bins are used to decompose trash such as fruit peels, paper and potatoes.

By: Gabby Cano, Editor

     The seeds of Earth Day were planted around the 1960’s. While war was raging in Vietnam and hippie culture reached a new high, industries released pollutants into the atmosphere with little fear of the legal consequences.

     Most Americans remained oblivious until a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin,  Gaylord Nelson, announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the media. Enviromental activist Denis Hayes and Nelson organized a day that went down in American history.

     On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to parks, auditoriums and streets to protest for a healthier environment. Issues such as oil spills, polluting factories, toxic dumps and the loss of wilderness all gained the public’s attention.

     Now Earth Day is officially celebrated each year on April 22.

     Society made progress from that first Earth Day, yet there are still issues. As humans continue to create waste and cause pollution, global warming is becoming a increasingly big issue. Scientists are observing the effects the pollution has on the planet. The question of how humans can stop damaging the planet remains unanswered.

     Climate change is one threat. With the Earth’s atmosphere overloaded with carbon dioxide and hazardous gases, it threatens the climate.

     “Global warming is real. Even though it’s winter here in Illinois, it’s summer somewhere else. Australia has the highest recorded temperatures and because of the heat there, droughts and fires are occuring,” world cultures teacher Brian Aversa said.

     On Jan. 3, Narrabi, Australia hit an eye-popping 118 degrees Farenheit.

     Air pollution proves to be a huge issue. Every day, pollutants are discharged into the air by civilians and factories. Air can be polluted both indoors and outdoors. Tobacco and other types of smoking are considered indoor air pollution.

     According to eschooltoday, it is estimated that a person breathes in 20,000 liters of air daily. The more polluted the air is, the more a person inhales potentially dangerous chemicals.

     Water pollution is the second largest environmental concern along with air pollution.   Water becomes contaminated from the direct or indirect release of toxic waste.

     In addition to those two types of pollution, land pollution poses a threat to Earth as well. It is the destruction of the planet’s land surfaces, often a result of a person’s indirect or direct activites.

    The future will be impacted by all of the pollution emitted.

     “With more pollution affecting the planet, global warming will increase. There will be more droughts, which means there will be less avaliable food. Prices for everyday items will increase, both at the store and gas pump. Eventually the temperatures will rise. Without the cold killing bugs off, more insects will be inhabiting the planet and causing disease,” Aversa said.

     This scenario is looking more likely. Humans throw away enough trash every day to fill up 63,000 garbage trucks, according to eschooltoday.

     “Going green” is a popular term that refers to the daily methods a person takes to help save the planet. Although going green is costly, the overall result is helping the environment.

     Creating a compost pile is a healthy way to get rid of waste. Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 20 to 30 percent of a person’s trash is composed of food scraps and yard waste. These materials can easily be composted instead of being thrown out. Making compost keeps the trash out of landfills where it takes up space and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

     People can also plant their own gardens.Homegrown organic food does not contain pesticides, chemical fertilizers or hormones.

     Additionally, a person can use bikes, travel on foot or carpool to save gas.

     Another huge part of going green requires recycling. The saying “reduce, reuse, recycle” can help the Earth greatly.

     Recycling is the process of converting waste products into reusable material. Over 80 percent of items in landfills can be recycled, according to eschooltoday. Aluminum, plastic bottles, newspapers, cardboard, steel cans, computers, paper products and glass containers are all able to be recycled.

     Electronics like computers can be recycled as well. On Aug. 20, 2012, St. Charles residents could begin to dispose of their old electronics at the City of St. Charles Public Works facility. This program offers a way to properly dispose of home electronics, since these items were banned from landfills in Illinois as of Jan. 1, 2012.

     “I think recycling is important. I recycle because it’s just as easy as putting your garbage in the trash can, and it will benefit our future,” sophomore Courtney Davis said.

     Recycling a simple aluminum can save enough energy to run a television for three hours, according to eschooltoday.

     Another way of protecting Earth includes setting the thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on costs and energy. Unplugging appliances can save energy too.

     Methods of going green are endless. The Kaneland community makes an effort to help the environment.

     Humans should consider the future of the planet the next time a person decides to throw a piece of trash out of the window or as they waste another sheet of paper.

     “It’s hard to get people to make a change because they don’t see the immediate effects. But polluting the Earth will eventually affect my kids, their kids and the future generations,” Aversa said.