Tuesday, December 11The Voice of London

The irony of being “environmentally friendly”

Plastic straws are so last year. As more and more companies input a ban on plastic straws in their businesses to reduce plastic waste and “help save the planet”, climate change seems to remain unaffected.

Since 2002, carbon dioxide levels have increased more than 50 parts per million (ppm) according to NASA, and 17 of the 18 recorded warmest years have occurred since 2001, the warmest on record being just two years ago. The population seems to be jumping on trends here and there to ban this and that, yet it’s not helping global warming, not even in the slightest.

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Look at the ongoing California fires that began on November 8. The cause, although unknown and still a very long way away from reaching a conclusion, is suspected to be because of the changing climate in Camp Fire’s story – the one that begun this ocean of fire – due to the heavy drought in the state.

In addition, the rate at which the fire is engulfing the surrounding areas has been confirmed to be due to the climate and environmental conditions in California by the deputy chief of law enforcement and fire prevention of the northern division of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, James Engel.

The case of the air in London

London isn’t doing any better either. It might seem like England’s doing fine as a whole because of the worldwide image of the country eternally being ‘grey and dreary’, but London’s air pollution levels are incredibly high. The air quality in the areas of Trafalgar Square and Euston are just as bad as Shanghai, all receiving a 72 on the air quality index.

A major study published just two days ago found more than 2,000 children in the city are affected by diesel pollution daily, stunting their lung growth. In London, even with the LEZ daily charge and T-Charge implemented by Sadiq Khan, the city’s annual average last year was around 70μg/m³, incredibly far from the legal limit of 40μg/m³.

Recently, the government also set out a plan to ban both the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, with the ban coming into place either October 2019 or 2020, in order to protect British rivers and seas. Moreover, a current trend has also begun where people are trying to avoid buying items in the supermarket that is packed with plastic, as they are aiming to reduce plastic waste.

This could potentially influence England in the future, too, as countries such as Australia are already working on this issue in the next few years – it is aiming for all their packaging to be sustainable by 2025.

From all these new laws one would expect some change to the high levels of pollution in the world – be it plastic, water or air pollution – but the official data from NASA is stating that the opposite is happening instead.

Why? Because even if these new laws are being put in place, people still seem to not care enough. In America, only 34 per cent of the population recycles, according to Planet Aid, and in London, the amount of air pollution is ridiculously terrible in relation to the fact that only 30 per cent of the population owns a car.

Californians are heavily against a new plan to construct a direct train between San Francisco and Los Angeles, meaning that the population is more in favour of driving in individual cars and increasing pollution, rather than opting for public transport.

The ongoing California fires are a major eye-opener. It is a disaster, suspected to be worsened by climate change and causing even more danger to the environment, as combustion released carbon dioxide. It is ironic that there are so many bans on plastic usage being implemented all over the world, yet we don’t seem to care enough about how global warming is real and is still a major issue.

If you still remember last summer, the temperature was unbearable. The reason? Climate change.

Let’s not become like some presidents and pretend climate change is a hoax by the Chinese, because it certainly is not.

Words: Sissi Yi Hu | Subbing: Maria Campuzano

Photo credit: USDA

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