Metal straws won’t save the world

Editorial Board

On Sept. 29, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared 23 endangered species as extinct, and in doing so, removed them from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Since the creation of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, only 11 species were removed due to extinction; somehow, after a span of 50 years, the number tripled in just one day. Texas’s ivory-billed woodpecker, the San Marcos gambusia and many more were added to the ever-expanding list of extinct species. Just days prior, it was announced that the American bumblebee population, too, has collapsed by 90 percent: inching eerily near endangered status. Throughout the world, extinction rates for both plants and animals are rising at a rapid pace — one thousand times higher than before humans entered the equation — prompting a very necessary question that demands to be answered: what are we going to do about it?

In response to the climate crisis, a handful of environmental advocacy movements have sprung into action, and a select few have entered the mainstream. Notably, an anti-straw movement encouraging people to ditch plastic straws has steadily gained popularity since 2018. The anti-straw movement should not be overlooked — it has prompted a sea of people to start considering the consequences of their actions — but our society’s response to it is a microcosm of modern environmentalism at large. People make one infinitesimal change and mistakenly assume their job is done: that their carbon footprint has been miraculously erased, thereby cleansing their conscience. Yet, in reality, one small change is not enough — in other words, metal straws won’t save the world. 

Over the years, the subject of climate change has somehow morphed into a catalyst for partisan debate. There will be no political parties, however, if the planet is dead. We must abolish the “divide and conquer” mentality and unite as one collective primed to reshape the future. Fundamentally, we as humans tend to underestimate the power we have within our grasp. Pessimism floods our veins all too often as we gloomily conclude that the planet is a lost cause. Yet, the inescapable, undeniable truth is this: each and every one of our actions and reactions hold unwavering significance. Our actions — like it or not — have a reverberating ripple effect: it is solely up to us whether that effect is constructive or catastrophic. 

Climate change is far from impending doom, a doom future generations can spend their energy sorting through; we are living in the midst of a climate crisis right this very second. We cannot waste any time drowning in denial: the sooner we acknowledge that we need to make a change, the better. We cannot afford to ignore the warning signs any longer. Sustainability is more than a trendy accessory, more than a fad: it’s the only viable path forward. We can make a true, impactful difference by practicing sustainability in as many areas of our lives as we can. In addition, we must cast our ballots for leaders who take science seriously: who believe in the climate crisis threatening to consume us. The future of our planet is at stake. Will you take a stand?