For seven years of my life, I lived in Turkey.
For the first four years there, I lived in Istanbul. If you didn’t already know, in Turkey there is litter everywhere, even if there is a trash can nearby. This alone was enough to cause me concern about how we are handling our resources.
After I moved away from Istanbul, I lived in a city farther north-east named Erzurum. I lived in an apartment building at the foot of a mountain. Right outside of our building, there was a dump. It wasn’t a dump for garbage, but it was for construction rubble. However, with the way people littered, the rubble dump was still filled with trash, along with the concrete, rebar, and dirt. It was actually quite sad because the goats fed on the spiky plants that grew in those mounds of dirt, and I would often see them eating the plastic that was dangling from the plants.
Almost every week, I’d go out with the neighbor kids to build a bonfire out of the trash. I did it mainly for fun, but a nagging annoyance at the abundance of litter led me to it as well. While burning trash isn’t environmentally friendly, and my efforts didn’t really accomplish much in terms of removing the excessive trash, I felt a growing sense of responsibility towards our use of our resources and to improve the quality of life.
Each year as winter came, a fog of coal would descend upon the city as people burnt coal for the heating of their houses.
It would almost be impossible to see over the light posts by the street at night. It was rather unpleasant, but I didn’t realize the full implications of what this would mean until I started taking a class on climate change this year. I learned how burning things like coal leads to not only harmful substances in the air that can damage the health of humans and even lead to death, but the burning of both trash and coal, that had seemed so normal, were also increasing CO2 in the atmosphere and enhancing the greenhouse effect.
Even worse, I realized a stark connection: that it wasn’t just in little cities in Turkey that people were burning things like coal, but people all around the world were burning different fuels for transportation, heat, and energy. I realized that humans have not been very wise with the resources they’d been given.
After starting the climate change class, I’ve learned about multiple potential solutions like carbon tax, cap and trade, smart grid, alternative energy, and so on. While some of the solutions may not work, it’s our role to find ones that do and implement them.
Without action, there can be no solution.
That’s why I intend to be an advocate for greener living and reasonable proposed solutions to climate change. I ask that anyone who reads this will join me as well in order to hopefully prevent some of the anticipated horrendous damages that climate change has, and will continue to have, if we don’t act fast to drastically change the way we consume and generate energy.