Youth Activists: Greenhouse Gas Emissions in New York City
Youth Activists: Greenhouse Gas Emissions in New York City
Why this petition matters
Robert Kennedy, Jr. eloquently notes that “I always saw pollution as theft, and I always thought, ‘Why should somebody be able to pollute the air, which belongs to all of us or destroy a river or a waterway, which is supposed to belong to the whole community?’” We were born in developing countries. While growing up, we witnessed an alarming amount of starving people on the streets. We had watched mothers and their children desperately scavenging for food. When first visiting a restaurant in Queens, we were astonished how people disposed of untouched food as if it had no value. As if they couldn’t give the food to the less fortunate like the ones we saw while growing up. We’ve always tried to limit how much food we’ve disposed of but we soon came to realize that not everyone put the same amount of effort into this as we did. While reading articles, we discovered that something as simple as throwing out food had such a major impact on our planet. While we have adapted to New York City’s air, when family members visited us, they had frequently stated how difficult it was to breathe. This is a problem that has to be addressed. New York City is one of the most contaminated cities in the United States, compared to other cities it also has an abundance of unconsumed food that is getting disposed of daily. Not only is it damaging to our climate crisis and to those who are less fortunate but it is contributing to NYC’s rat infestation. Due to these factors, New York City ranks number eight on a list of the most polluted cities in the United States in accord with guidelines set by the World Health Organization. Some may argue that making New York city environment friendly would be expensive; according to Sophie Hirsh on Greenmatters, it would cost about 14 million dollars to make New York ecologically sound. However, this major investment now will return more profits ultimately. In turn, it can also enrich our economy and the overall well-being of the people. This is a formal request to ensue California’s Air Resources Board and laws set by California to withhold a powerful regulatory agency on car regulation that prohibits public facilities from disposing of untouched food. By doing this, we can lower carbon emissions and make our streets more sanitary. We will also be able to help others in our communities when they need it the most.
In New York City, the air quality is poor due to the large number of cars releasing excessive gasses into the atmosphere. Throwing out food, which can be saved and donated, is also releasing excessive methane into the atmosphere, which is adding to the overheating of Earth. In our current status quo, the air has a horrible smell. It tastes like gasoline and rotten food. Black smoke is constantly pouring from houses and vehicles. Moreover, finding garbage bags piled on top of each other and garbage bins stacked full are not an uncommon occurrence. Watching a rat dumpster dive is any less than rare. This is no healthy way to live; among the trash, rats, and thick black air. As stated in an article, “In the US alone, the production of food waste generates the equivalent of 32.6 million car’s worth of greenhouse gas emissions.” (World Wildlife, n.d). In other words, cars releasing greenhouse gasses isn’t the only thing that should concern us. This is crucial because food waste is a contributing factor to climate change that is often overlooked. Seeing how common it is proving to be another issue since the disposal of food rapidly increases the number of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. Air pollution is also affecting, primarily minorities. There is increasing evidence that non-physical stressors such as poverty, racial/ethnic discrimination, and fear of deportation can amplify the harmful effects of air pollution. (American Lung Association State of Air, n.d) This study shows that those with less financial stability that fall lower on the corporate ladder of the American hierarchy are more susceptible to damage done by pollution. This is significant because “non-physical stressors'' are something that causes a state of strain or tension. These physiological stressors are felt by forty-two percent of the United States population who is non-native or have immigrant ancestors. This, unfortunately, means that almost half of American society is more prone to the negative effects of pollutants. These effects are, and are not limited to; premature birth, causing or worsening lung and heart disease, and as of most recently, due to a spike in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, death. As you can see, the current health of our planet is affecting our health and well-being. Certain individuals are dying due to their less fortunate status.
We request that a fraction of our funds are set for non-polluting private transportation to increase the overall health of the ozone and the freshness of New York air as well as passing a law that bans public facilities such as restaurants, hospitals, and schools from disposing of uneaten food and making them donate it to homeless shelters instead. Currently, there is over $71,519, 608,000 dollars associated with the City-Wide Total to fund environment-conscious programs to regularly regulate pollutants. We can additionally use the funds to hire employees to pass said law. According to a study published by Michigan State University in 2012, reducing food waste has social and economic benefits. To support this it states, “Reducing food waste is environmentally important as it keeps food out of landfills. It makes economic sense at the small scale, by lowering household food bills and at the large scale by reducing disposal costs for restaurants, processors, and farmers. Finally, reducing food waste is socially important when the rescued food is redirected to emergency food providers working to eliminate hunger in our communities.” (Michigan State University, 2012) In other words, putting in additional effort to ending food waste on a large scale benefits everyone in our community (including businesses.) This is imperative since reducing food waste prevents people from spending an additional amount of money on bills and encouraging people to donate their food brings our community closer and brings more awareness to the issue of starvation and homelessness in New York City. According to the 2017 report of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) opens up $12 trillion of the market opportunity in four core economic sectors; Food, Agriculture, City Energy and Materials, and Health and Well-being. These sectors represent around 60% of the real economy…(Palmer, 2019). This illustrates that making New York would enrich our economy; opening the opportunity for trillions of dollars in profit. This highlight how having a healthy planet would not only better our individuals but as well as the economic stability of some of our core economic sectors. The core economic sector is a way to group the most important parts of our economy into very generalized categories. Bypassing a few laws and funding such organizations, would significantly help with ensuring a better environment for our community. Additionally, it can significantly assist us with combating some of the world’s biggest problems.
To reiterate, certain forms of transportation and wasting food are contaminating New York City. Pollution is affecting our mental and physical health as well as the sanitation of our community space. The best way to solve this problem is to regulate both emissions by vehicles and also if and when we throw out food, in hope that the city will regain its health. Part of our duty as American citizens is to take care of our community. If we don’t kill pollution it will kill us. Our community is our home. We should push for a change not only for the less fortunate but also for our future generations. We must make our community a healthy space in which we can thrive. We have already delayed taking action against climate change by a long amount of time and there isn’t much time till we face the consequences of our actions. Though this may be a painstaking process, the results will benefit our planet for generations to come.