Teen Style: The environment’s role in 2008 campaigns
November 2, 2008
Steamboat Springs — With everything that is going on – the war in Iraq, deteriorating economy and ongoing debates about immigration, abortion and health care, for example – it is easy to let the environment take a backseat in American politics.
One of the key reasons that the planet is so often politically neglected is that environmental damage does not immediately and obviously affect the average person. When people see the stock market crash on the news, they realize they have lost much of their savings. When they learn from CNN that the Amazon forest is being destroyed three times as fast now as last year, they assume the issue has little to do with them.
Most local teens consider the financial crisis to take priority over environmental concerns, and some consider the environment to be their last political priority. Some said politicians realize what issues are important to the people and campaign accordingly.
“The presidential candidates are not talking enough about preserving the environment,” said Eryn Rinck, 14. Some, such as 13-year-old Tessa Linahl, think environmental issues should be playing more of a role in this current presidential race.
“If I could vote, the environment would be one of the top things I’d be voting for,” Linahl said. Many teens are convinced that their age group is more environmentally conscious than voting adults. Or, as Linahl said, “We’re the next generation.” This age group is not catered to in presidential campaigns, as they have little impact on who gets in the Oval Office.
It is important to remember that what harms the environment often causes additional problems. Beyond the obvious losses, degradation of the ecosystem can cause health issues. The economy is harmed, as well.
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According to a recent study funded by the European Commission and the German government, and titled “The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity,” the loss of financial capital from deforestation has a cost of between $2 and $5 trillion each year. This number is calculated based on the loss of “ecosystem services” that the forests had previously performed for free, such as absorbing carbon dioxide and purifying water and air. Other political issues should never push aside the environment; if anything, they should serve to emphasize the importance of being kind to Earth.
Whoever wins the election will need to address these environmental issues and lead our nation to better care for the world in which it resides.