Dear Editor, 

There is an old saying that government regulations are written in blood. Like in the FDA, OSHA, or any other agency, the policies reflect that people have to die much of the time for the government to act. A lot of this is due to the sheer number of things the officials need to manage—data to process, studies to complete, people to try and listen to, political deadlock to struggle with— and everything is suspended in the bureaucracy; it makes sense that drastic events are what create the change. Other times, the regulations these issues require will threaten the people in power, giving the government incentive to ignore what needs to be done. It’s horrible, but it happens. It’s what is happening with our current climate regulations. This opinion piece is a warning of the blood being spilled in the climate crisis that is being ignored by the people in power, a plea for citizens to petition our negligent government to act before more are killed, a cry for help for the sake of humanity. 

If this sounds dramatic, I assure you that it is only because America is not the first to see the effects of global climate change. But we are next on the list to face extinctions, starvation, sickness, hurricanes, and drought—an inexhaustive list. Thousands in Asia have already been dying directly from these effects in floods, heat waves, and storms according to the World Meteorological Organization. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs listed Bangladesh as especially vulnerable to sea level rise that threatens their populations. Eun-Soom Im with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has predicted temperatures hot enough in South Asia that they are not survivable for more than a couple hours. After seeing what has devastated vulnerable countries, I feel that my ‘dramatic’ words are more than justified in getting this point across, especially because these are not only my words. Experts across the world have published work after work on countless climate issues while the people facing them cry out for help. They all cry the same: if our downward spiral continues and we do nothing to live alongside the natural world rather than exploiting it, the massive amounts of unnecessary deaths will continue to grow until no one can escape the consequences. Not even America.

Unfortunately, the cries of scientists and sufferers have fallen on ears deafened by luxury. We have let the exploitation continue for so long only because we did not want to sacrifice the benefits. These benefits have long run thin, climbing the chain of power and money, leaving more people behind in the dust. All while the problems have been creeping up on us for quite some time—they are no longer hiding halfway across the world. According to the United States NOAA, there are droughts in the American southwest, stronger hurricanes along the east coast, crops that struggle to grow, and extinctions threatening the plants and animals we depend on. Behind most of this is the carbon we pump into our atmosphere, the way we farm, and the scarce patchwork of habitable nature we have left alone after we carve out cities and towns and road networks. But it is not hopeless; we have the technology and resources to put a stop to this. All these behaviors are necessary and feasible to change right now, but it requires the effort of united people rather than individuals acting alone.

We are united in one simple way: the government that works for us. We the people must make them act on climate change. We must force their pens to sign regulations in the blood from the wounds they refuse to treat, regardless of the sacrifices these regulations will require. In comparison to what future generations will face on our current course, these sacrifices are trivial and greedy not to make. If we let the climate continue to change for the benefit of those in power, we will be kneeling at the feet of our own actions waiting for them to deal the final blow. We must act now, while the cards are still in our bloody hands.

Elliott Foster

Lorton

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