Marquette Wire

HUGHES: Threats to environment are threats to national security

Photo by Maryam Tunio

Photo by Maryam Tunio

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My family and I lived on the West Coast for a short time. I remember very little of our life there, but the memories I do have are mostly of the ocean and the California redwoods. When we moved from the West to the Midwest there were still beautiful sights to be seen, and while coastal elitists may argue that Wisconsin’s environment pales in comparison to mountains and beaches, there is so much here that deserves to be awed and protected.

 

But even if you’re a city slicking anti-camper who would rather watch HBO than spend a night in the woods, you still must recognize the opportunity cost for the comforts we enjoy. Because it’s about more than nature hikes and sunsets. The quality of the environment plays directly into our quality of health and sustainability. Industrialization, factory farming, urbanization and the like have all contributed to the rapid decline of our environment. This is a fact.

 

With that said, we’ve committed to our lifestyles, and these industries won’t be going away. But we need to find a balance. For the past century, the U.S. government has promised to work toward that balance, and the Environmental Protection Agency has been the vehicle by which this promise was delivered.

When the current administration proposes cutting that agency’s budget by a third, it should give us pause.

 

For clarification, the EPA isn’t a group of tree-hugging hippies laying down in front of bulldozers. These are scientists, scholars and health professionals whose purpose is to protect us from ourselves. When companies don’t follow emissions guidelines, it impacts the air we breathe. When companies dump waste into oceans and quarries, it impacts our water supply. The EPA’s role is to prevent companies from doing these things.

 

Trump’s eagerness to abolish the EPA should worry all of us. This goes for the people in my hometown with souped-up trucks that get 8 miles to the gallon, and for the people who conscientiously ride their bikes to work in order to limit pollution. This is an issue for everyone regardless of politics, background, upbringing or residence.

 

We should be looking at climate change and environmental instability as a threat to national security. Changing weather patterns will bring more natural disasters, loose emissions regulations will bring smog and eventually, no matter where we go, the tap water won’t be suitable for drinking.

 

There are costs for the way we live, but honestly, it’s not that difficult to recycle and to turn off the tap when we’re brushing our teeth. For all the good we do as individuals, we need to hold our government to the same standard. What good is thriving industry if all the world’s people are too sick to work, or all the earth’s resources have been dried up?

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