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Green Practices: Whose Responsibility Is It

Modern society emphasizes the importance of conservation of resources and sustainable development, instilling these virtues from a young age for the betterment of society. However, in what ways beyond simply awareness could the movement towards conservation be encouraged?

By Saharsh Satheesh

Published 10:14 EST, Thur September 9th, 2021

Introduction

Modern society emphasizes the importance of conservation of resources and sustainable development, instilling these virtues from a young age for the betterment of society. However, in what ways beyond simply awareness could the movement towards conservation be encouraged? With the importance of resource conservation becoming apparent in recent years, some argue that conservation remain a suggestion, whereas others propose the government create a requirement for all citizens to conserve resources. While the involvement of the government may be futile unless large corporations begin to conserve more, the government should persist in creating rewards for citizens and discourage those who neglect new standards, all the while establishing a precedent for conservation.

Methods for Cultivating Green Practices

For example, motivating citizens by means of incentives may propel the cause of cultivating green practices. In 2003, Germany implemented a system known as pfand, an additional deposit [one pays] as part of the price of a bottle or can [that] gets reimbursed when [one returns] the container to a vendor,” which caused “recycling rates for cans [to rise to] 99% [in Germany]” (Oltermann). If citizens were left to themselves to decide where to dispose cans, perhaps only a small percentage of the population may dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner. However, when the government takes action and creates a system where citizens themselves can benefit, which in this case is monetary compensation, they are motivated to support the cause. In addition, with the emission of greenhouse gases from cars becoming an issue, “the [Singaporean] government [began giving] a lump sum tax rebate of 40% of the price of a vehicle to Singaporeans who opt for hybrids” (Webber). Singapore’s solution to combating the emission of greenhouse gases is ingenious; citizens, for the most part, are unconcerned with whether they purchase a traditional gas vehicle or a hybrid vehicle, and with the right compensation, one may be even be seen as significantly better option than the other. Since cars are one of the most common means for transportation, by enforcing a law that saves citizens money while simultaneously upholding green principles, citizens may be compelled to contribute to the cause of conservation. Thus, when the government establishes laws and practices such that citizens can benefit from them, it becomes more appealing, and this increases the likelihood of successfully cultivating green practices.

In addition, when the government takes initiative and penalizes those who do not exercise green practices, it strengthens the cause for the adoption of environmentally friendly practices. For example, when the “Princess Cruise Lines” in 2016 “[dumped] oil-contaminated waste into the sea” and attempted to cover it up, “[they] agreed to pay $40 million”, as the waste is hazardous to marine life, reduces oxygen concentration in water, and contradicts the principles of green practices (Mervosh). The government has strict guidelines, and any deviation from that, as seen in the example with Princess Cruise Lines, is punishable by law. This ensures that companies and individuals will obey guidelines in the future, as they are aware of what consequences they may face. However, some claim that even with measures in place such as fines for pollution, large corporations will continue to disregard laws, and without the cooperation of these large corporations, it is futile to ask individuals to contribute to conservation. However, an act that directly disproves this theory is the cap-and-trade system, in which “the government first creates a ‘cap’ on the total amount of pollutants emitters may release,” which in Europe caused “emissions [to reduce] by 29% in 2018” (“Cap-and-Trade”). This cap-and-trade system also allows corporations to, as its name implies, trade their caps so that the total pollution emitted remains the same; corporations can, however, trade within themselves, so they do not exceed their maximum permitted pollution level, as exceeding so would result in heavy fines. By allowing corporations to trade their caps, the government ensures that corporations are appeased, as those who need to pollute more can simply purchase from other companies. As a result, corporations, for the most part, are not majorly impacted, and green principles are maintained. Furthermore, these actions by the government are instrumental in establishing a precedent for conservation. In a 2007 survey of residents in different countries, it was found that over 85% of residents in the United States and Japan voluntarily recycle (Rheault). The high rate of conservation-centered residents is undoubtedly the result of government actions that fostered green principles. Due to the various systems and incentives implemented, citizens were motivated to contribute to the cause of conservation. Thus, when the government interferes and creates a system where consequences are imminent for those who do not follow implemented standards, the goal of enriching green principles is achieved.

Conclusion

Although it may seem that the efforts to conserve resources and practice sustainable methods will not have a significant impact unless large corporations begin to follow those standards, if the government creates a system for citizens to benefit from conservation and devises consequences for those who break conservation laws, the creation of a society that is concerned with holding onto green principles will naturally occur, setting a precedent for future generations. With the urgency for conservation being observed in recent years, it is becoming evident that the government should be responsible for leading citizens and corporations to better manage resources. After all, these resources do not exist in infinite quantities, and in order to allow future generations to have the same rights to the resources used in the present-day, it is imperative that the government cultivates green practices.

Saharsh Satheesh, Youth Medical Journal 2021

Sources

“Cap-and-Trade.” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, May 2020, http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/cap-and-trade.

Mervosh, Sarah. “Carnival Cruises to Pay $20 Million in Pollution and Cover-Up Case.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 June 2019,

http://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/business/carnival-cruise-pollution.html.

Oltermann, Philip. “Has Germany Hit the Jackpot of Recycling? The Jury’s Still Out.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 30 Mar. 2018,

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/30/has-germany-hit-the-jackpot-of-recycling-the-jurys-still-out.

Rheault, Magali. “In Top Polluting Nations, Efforts to Live ‘Green’ Vary.” Gallup. Gallup, Inc., 22 Apr. 2008. Web. 18 Aug. 2009

Webber, Alan M. “U.S. Could Learn a Thing or Two from Singapore.” Editorial. USA Today. USA Today, 14 Aug. 2006. Web. 17 Aug. 2009.

By Saharsh Satheesh

Saharsh Satheesh is a junior in high school. He has a passion for biology and plans to study medicine in college.

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