column by Robin Hendricks

We have reached the point where a decision must be made. Every generation has pushed

it off for the next to deal with, not aware that their procrastination increases the problem exponentially for those who must fix it.

It is no longer global warming. It is climate change.

One is just the gradual heating of the earth–which is a big deal in its own right–but the

other is much more damaging. Climate change is the result of global warming. It encompasses the basic premise of higher temperatures but also includes rising sea levels and increasingly severe weather.

It seems every summer we have a new record high and every winter a new record low. True, Earth’s temperatures do cycle, but there’s just one problem: they don’t seem to be climbing back down.

There are more tangible issues, too. We waste so much, and it doesn’t just go away. We put our trash into landfills. We put them deep in the ground with no sunlight. Particles need water and sunlight and basically exposure to the elements to decompose.

Theoretically, if garbage is placed underground it can stay there forever. And the more people in an area, the more garbage there is.

It’s not just the Richland and Lexington counties increasing in population size, it’s the world. Population increases exponentially, not at a fixed rate. And we’re using more plastic and creating more waste than ever before.

Essentially, one day we’ll run out of room if we don’t cut down on the amount of resources we use on a daily basis and further regulate what we do with our leftover waste.

Recycling is an easy way to remedy both these situations. Resources get more use than they normally would and after they are used, they can become something new and not be put into the ground to–well, not to rot, but to remain eerily similar to the way they were 50 years ago.

Paper and plastic aren’t the only waste products that can be put to better use. Leftover vegetables and fruit, if mixed with brown natural waste like dead leaves or pine straw in a process called composting, can become highly fertilized soil that can be used for agriculture or landscaping.

Dutch Fork is leading the state in green initiatives like these.

So far in the 2014-2015 school year, Dutch Fork has saved 990 dollars by recycling. Each time a dumpster of garbage is picked up from the school, it costs the district money. So, by reducing the amount of garbage in the dumpsters, we are saving money the district can put toward academics, athletics or the arts instead. In March, Dutch Fork actually recycled more than we threw away.

It is economically sustainable to go green by recycling and composting, etc., but it is also

necessary for the environment. Earth is not here for humans to glean whatever we can from it. It is here in its own right and has been for a lot longer than we have. So, rather than use it for our own advantage, we should protect it and help it bounce back from the damage we have inflicted over the last few hundred years.