Throughout the years, there have been endless back-and-forth debates about environmental regulation and protecting the environment. The most common argument is about climate change and whether it is real or not. When arguing against the need for policies to protect our environment, people claim that it is unnecessary because they don’t think climate change is a real thing. Even if climate change isn’t real or is something outside of humanity’s control protecting our environment is still a necessity.

Say the world isn’t heating up. Do we really think it’s still perfectly fine for industry and other polluters to pump tons of chemicals into our atmosphere? The increased amount of CO2 and other chemicals in our atmosphere can, according to the World Health Organization, increase our risk of cancer. Back before we knew about the negative effects of lead, we used to put it in our gas. With every car in America releasing lead into our atmosphere, people ended up breathing it in. Lead poisoning is dangerous enough for adults, but can have an even worse effects on children. According to the Center for Disease Control, lead can end up stunting the mental and physical development of children. If all the buses and cars on campus still used lead gas, what do you think your mental and physical health would be like?

Another major issue that would be problematic, even without climate change, is littering. Whenever somebody doesn’t properly dispose of something, it doesn’t just look bad, it can also damage the health of our wildlife. Animals can’t always tell the difference between trash and food. Animals will often eat plastic waste, which according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can lead to their starvation.

We are also causing the extinction and endangerment of many animals. In order to feed humans, we need hundreds of acres of farmland, ranches for livestock, and farmland to feed our livestock. This need of land has led to humanity cutting down acres of forest and jungle, eliminating the homes of many species. We are also depleting the world’s fish population because of how large the fishing industry has become. We have also hunted, whether for food or sport, many species to near extinction.

A big reason why there’s such large resistance to passing any new environmental regulation is because of large companies. The oil industry is one of the most powerful lobbying industries in America, desperately trying to protect their bottom line against even the smallest of regulations. According to the Huffington Post, the oil industry spends around $115 million each year to resist any environmental regulation. It even funds one of our state’s senators, Thom Thillis. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Thom Tillis reportedly received $64,000 in funding from Koch Industries, which is notorious for its anti-environmental policies and action. The fact is that these politicians won’t do anything as long as Big Oil is paying them, so what we have to do is vote them out. If we mobilize and vote en masse, then we can get some politicians into Congress who actually care about the environment and not just their wallets. One senator who is up for reelection is Thom Tillis. So if you aren’t happy with him listening to Big Oil, vote him out in 2020.

It is time to move past the argument that we don’t need to protect the environment because climate change isn’t real. Protecting our environment is a necessity for the health of our planet and ourselves. When we poison our homes, we poison each other as well. If we don’t push for more environmental regulation, we will only continue to kill more and more of our planet and perhaps eventually kill ourselves. But we can stop this. If we make sure our actions are environmentally friendly, pressure corporations to take care of the environment and push our representatives to consider this issue, then we can still save this planet.

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