BEG: Corporations must be held environmentally accountable


Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Humanity has 12 years left to reduce global warming to a moderate level and make a drastic change to global energy infrastructure, according to a United Nations report released earlier this month.

The United Nations made it clear that the world will remain habitable if humans continue to treat it like we do now. The 700-page report detailed the predicted increase in famine, disease, refugees and economic hardships due to the changes in the environment, such as rising sea levels and catastrophic natural disasters.

To change the current methods, substantial measures need to be taken in various industries such as land, energy and infrastructure. Since the same harmful practices have been exercised for decades now, no easy options are left for people to quickly make an impact. All of these alterations must occur within the time span of the next 12 years to ensure at least a chance of the planet’s survival.

This report and warning by the United Nations caused some of the public to become truly aware of the effects of their actions, and it motivated some people to change their ways. There have been countless Twitter threads on my timeline recently that describe the methods we can adopt to help the environment. This movement includes stopping the use of straws, eating less meat and no longer drinking from plastic water bottles. The popularity of this movement on Twitter shows the younger generations’ true desire to improve the environment.

Although it is very important for each individual to do what he or she can and understand what is happening to our world, the state that the environment is in needs much more than the contributions of a single individual’s changes. The responsibility must be put upon large corporations that have power to make necessary adjustments. Millennials can do all they can, but the older CEOs in charge of companies that are harming the globe must be the ones to alter their ways.

A lot of the problems the environment faces can be traced to the tremendous energy use of these companies. If mankind intends to lessen its negative impact on the environment, there must be a dramatic decrease in energy use through limiting greenhouse gases. According a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most prominent contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the burning of fossil fuels. The same study highlights the fact that agricultural and transportation departments continuously burn fossil fuels, primarily through coal, which causes dangerous gases to enter and destroy the atmosphere.

Real change will stem from these companies owning up to their problems and beginning to fix them. Significant farming brands, like Cargill or Tyson, have a duty to rethink their land use for cattle and forests because it makes a significant difference in the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Cutting away plants from forests and grasslands eliminates organisms that take in greenhouse gases.

To combat the problem of land use, a farm in South Dakota uses an approach created by biologist Allan Savory. The approach explains how climate change problems can be solved by allowing herds to graze similar to their ancestors. The farm lets its bison freely roam around acres of land instead of secluding all the animals to one area. Their natural way of life allows for the growth of grass and reduction of carbon dioxide in the air.

Farming companies are just one example of the sect of agencies that are preventing a healthier world. More and more corporations need to recognize methods that will improve the environment without hindering business. One avenue to consider is a reduction in the amount of outsourced work to less environmentally-conscious nations such as China.

Some companies have started campaigns to help the environment, such as Starbucks’ decrease of straw lids. Even though it is a step in the right direction, changing the types of lids on some drinks offered will not make enough of an impact, especially if we have restricted time to help the world. Starbucks is a global company that has the ability to use tactics that decrease the danger through its factories and production process.

Corporations have the power to make substantial impacts that will cause a significant change to the threatening reality we face. Action must be taken now.