Senior Opinion: Capitalism is Killing Us


Matt Olson, Reporter

I am going to unlock a memory that you have probably forgotten about. The date is Apr. 22 and you are in the second grade. Your teacher walks into the classroom with craft supplies and cupcakes with green and blue frosting. You then watch a video, probably from National Geographic or some other news source about picking up trash when you see it on the street, or how you should turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth. If you were remembering this as Earth day, you are correct. While these videos shown to us in grade school might have done a good job at convincing us that we can single handedly save the earth, what they failed to show us was the large corporations producing tons of greenhouse gases, and how we as humans, continue to damage our earth’s atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and cutting down rain forests.

According to National Geographic, the greenhouse gas emissions are higher than they have ever been in the last 800,000 years. A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the “thermal infrared range,” causing a greenhouse effect. These are harmful gases because they cause global warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere and can also contribute to disease from pollution and smog. The largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions is the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are most commonly burned for electricity, transportation and heating. A study from business-human rights stated that 71% of global emissions have been traced back to only 100 companies since 1988. The other 29% is most prominently from public transportation such as subways, buses, cars and airplanes.

Had the younger version of yourself realized the terrors left unnoticed in your class celebration, you may have become concerned. Luckily, there is a naturally occurring solution on our planet that helps combat the greenhouse gases. Trees are our best friends when it comes to global emissions such as greenhouse gases, according to The Rain forest Alliance. They “capture” the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which prevents them from accumulating in our atmosphere and warming the planet.

The downside to this, however, is the mass deforestation of our rain forests. Not only are we getting rid of our so-called protector from greenhouse gases, but when the trees are cut down, they release all of the carbon dioxide that they have been storing into the atmosphere. A good example of the effects of this would be from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”, another film most everyone has watched in school. The Once-Ler cuts down the truffula trees, which then eradicates the barbaloot’s food source, mucks up the water that the fish swim in and pollutes the air that the birds fly in, forcing them all to leave. It was only then that the Once-Ler realized the damage he had done, but it was too late.

Much like the Once-Ler, if we continue to ignore the obvious problems that we have caused on our planet, there will be a point where we can not go back, and where we can not fix things. In the grand scheme of things, shutting off the water while brushing your teeth, and picking up litter will only produce a microscopic amount of change to our climate emergency. While those are still important things to do, we need to address the large corporations that will inevitably lead to the destruction of our planet.