Call for Austin representatives to implement more environmentally friendly laws in Texas

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It is the perpetual obligation of the current generation to prepare for the younger generation. We spend the majority of our lives laboring away in the colloquial rat race in order to secure a future, not just for our children and grandchildren, but for that nebulous “humanity.” But this burden grows heavier with every passing decade; as the human potential for greatness grows, parallel is its capacity to destroy itself. The greatest example of this in modern times is our relationship with the environment. We have taken great advantage of our natural resources, using energy sources such as oil to power monumental industries which allow for leisure the likes of which has never before been experienced by humanity, but the use of these same resources has led to the destruction of the environment through pollution, mining, and climate change. It is at this point in our development that we have arrived at a pivotal juncture. Will we continue to indulge our present interests and deny our fundamental obligation to the future, or will we embrace prescient new policies which, through short-term difficulties, can lead to long-term rewards and success in regards to both the quality and quantity of human existence?

Texas in particular has a duty to take progressive action with its policies because of its standing in relation to other states. According to a 2016 analysis by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Texas was ranked 2nd in the United States both in terms of total population and GDP. This means that Texas’s actions have large effects, both directly, on its own population, and indirectly, through its influence on the policies of other states seeking to replicate its successes. In this way, large states such as Texas fill the same role as that of the scholar according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, that is, to impart knowledge and reason upon a community. That is why it is fundamental for us to adopt progressive, research-based environmental policies now. According to an article by Christina Boswell and Katherine Smith, research and policy can create a positive feedback loop of sorts, where science-based policy leads to more research, which leads to more intelligent policy, ad infinitum. Kirk Watson and Charles Schwertner therefore act not just as state representatives to Austin with their decisions, but as ambassadors to the standards and people of the United States at large.

As the State Senators, Kirk Watson and Charles Schwertner should be representing Austin proudly. According to the 2017 annual report by the United Health Foundation, Texas is the eleventh worst in the country for air pollution, with a ranking of PM9.9, which represents the percentage of population that has been exposed to particles of 2.5 microns or larger. This doesn't sound like much, but exposure of this nature has been linked to horrible health impacts such as asthma. Furthermore, according to a report by Water Online, a company that monitors toxic pollution into waterways, Texas is in the top 10 worst polluters of waterways. This can detrimentally affect our waterways, and upset the delicate ecosystems and industries that rely upon this water. I believe that Watson and Schwertner should introduce laws that go further to curb the amount of pollution these factories are allowed to generate each year, and force them to become more environmentally friendly than they were before. They can change the course of Texas to drop down on the amount of pollution generated, which will help with illnesses, asthma, and cleanliness of the state. This will help to reduce climate change and secure the future of Texas as a successful state.

According to a report by the Independent, the world has experienced an overshoot day, the day when people use more resources than the Earth can create in a whole year, since 1983. Even though this issue is worldwide, Texas is a leader in natural gas production and the Texas legislature can still consider this issue to ensure a better tomorrow. Each year, Earth is becoming more unsustainable due to overpopulation and the constant deprivation of resources. According to an analysis of fossil fuels by Our World in Data, 114 years of coal, 53 years of natural gas, and 51 years of oil remain. These methods of energy are not essential to a positive future of the human race or Texans. Inevitably, we will run out of these resources. The most clear answer at this time is nuclear fusion. Nothing involved in fusion is radioactive, and thus is very safe. Fusion has never reached the break even point, or the point where energy output overcomes energy input, but 4 possibilities have emerged as solutions. They are inertial confinement fusion, magnetic confinement fusion, magnetized confinement fusion, and subcritical fusion. They all involve a hydrogen nucleus and a sudden release of energy in different environments. In France an international coalition is working towards building the world's first Fusion reactor, caller Iter. It is expected to be completed and operational in the next five years. Texas should start planning for the future, not the present, and a positive future requires a new form of energy that is the beneficial to the environment and sustainable to human activity. We believe the Texas government should devote more resources to this promising development. If Texas continues on its current energy trends of natural gas and oil, there will be devastating consequences. Texas is contributing to global warming, and the evidence is clear. Based on NASA’s statistics, the average temperature has increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, and 2017 was the warmest year to date. Ocean acidification has increased by 30% due to high amounts of emitted carbon dioxide. The Gulf of Mexico, one our most prideful environmental features, is a victim of our own pollution. Ice sheets continue to melt, and sea levels continue to rise. According to NASA, 97% of active climate scientists agree climate change is in fact real. Politicians have a duty to recognize the long-term effects of climate change in order to ensure a safe and positive future for Texans.

It is for all of these reasons that Texas has a responsibility toward progressive action in regards to environment. We, as the constituents of Austin, Texas, the United States, and the Earth, are obligated to take decisive action in regards to pollution, energy, and climate change, issues that affect us all on a level deeper than the individual. These are all issues which we have the capability to address now, but if left unattended could have ramifications far beyond even the next generation. It is with the preservation of the modern environment in mind that we invoke the old adage, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and implore Watson and Schwertner to take steps to achieve a healthy, beneficial environment.

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