Sustainability is key, regardless of climate change

The selfish nature of a very few, but powerful, number of human beings makes them unable to sympathize with the natural ecosystems the human race has inhabited. Some believe that because we’re dominant and more developed, we should be able to exploit Mother Nature’s resources at our disposal with no regard for the waters, plants and animals.

Big oil companies and people like the Koch brothers have lobbied the federal and state governments to ensure that nothing keeps them from pursuing their selfish motives. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency could regulate greenhouse gases as pollution.

Accordingly, the Koch brothers, under the guise of the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, were eventually able to get the entire Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, more than a third of the members of the House of Representatives as a whole and a quarter of U.S. senators to sign the “No Climate Tax” pledge. The pledge essentially says that for every new tax on carbon emissions there must be an equal amount of tax cuts.

In 2011 and 2012, Koch Industries Public Sector LLC, the lobbying arm of Koch Industries Inc., lobbied members of Congress to support the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would roll back the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling, according to the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

Koch Industries Inc. rakes in annual revenues of $115 billion and touts itself as “one of the largest private companies in America.” The Koch brothers themselves are each worth $36 billion, according to Forbes Magazine, which makes them worth a combined, $72 billion.

Because Koch Industries Inc. is a major player in the oil industry, I think it’s pretty clear what the Koch brothers are really trying to protect.

While supposedly the jury is still out on the causes of global warming, there is no debate over the existence of environmental degradation, which is defined by The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction as “the reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives and needs.”

What the Koch brothers and big oil companies appear to be ignoring are the long-term effects of their continued and prolonged efforts to procure more wealth while being one of the largest contributing factors to environmental degradation and one of the 10 high-level threats to humanity, according to the U.N. By polluting our air and water and eroding our soils — natural resources that humans need to survive — they are putting the existence of mankind at risk.

There is an entire market open for green technology. If the Koch brothers invested just 2 percent of their income in wind, solar and other renewable sources, they could fund innovations where the technology is there, but funding is minimal, such as with wind turbines and solar panels.

It’s just a matter of making these energy sources more efficient while creating the ability to mass produce.

While there may be losses in the short run, there are infinite gains in the long run. By investing in renewable resources instead of fossil fuels, you’ll never have to worry about running out of wind or the sun because they’re infinite and sustainable. Even more, they reduce the impact of environmental degradation caused by oil drilling, and on top of all of that, the economic benefits are sizeable.

Germany adopted the Renewable Energy Act in 2000, which promoted the expansion of renewable energies in the electricity sector. Germany is considered to have the world’s first renewable energy economy. As of 2009, more than 367,000 people were employed in Germany’s renewable energies sector, and the use of renewable energies prevented the release of 118 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

If the destruction the Koch brothers and big oil companies cause isn’t directly affecting them or their personal lives, then why should they care?

The problems surrounding the pollution of Earth effect all of us equally, and it’s a problem that cannot be avoided. The ecosystems in various regions of the world, including the ones inhabited by humans, are incredibly fragile, and our existence depends on their well-being.

The debate shouldn’t be whether climate change is real, but that we should be taking care of our planet regardless of which way the temperature is going and because we are given only limited resources.

Instead of making a profit, we should be more concerned about what we can do to ensure increased longevity and not destruction because of the short term goals. The Koch brothers and big oil have done a great job at accumulating wealth, and now it’s time to do something with it that will benefit people other than themselves.

Matt is a sophomore in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @MatthewPasquini.