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Our Earth: What can we do?

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- (Editor's note: Jasmen Johnson is the winner of the Osan American High School Earth Day essay contest. She's in 11th grade and is the daughter of Chief Warrant Officers Gary and Phadre Johnson from Camp Humphreys.)

Over the last decade we have managed to accelerate the destruction of our earth. From air and water pollution to global warming, the earth is slowly deteriorating before our eyes and the only question that we have now is ' What can we do?' This paper is going to give the answer to this question and give a few helpful tips on bettering our lives in the process.

What can we do about pollution?

The first thing we have to do in order to answer this question is to define the word 'pollution.' Pollution is the undesirable state of the natural environment being contaminated with harmful substances as a consequence of human activities. Some harmful substances include vehicle exhaust, chemical waste, and aerosols. We can widely reduce the amount of vehicle exhaust we put into the air by carpooling or walking. By walking, we can not only reduce the amount of air pollution, but we can also use it as a way to improve our health.

Although you may not realize it, every time you wash your car or water your grass you are pouring some type of chemical into our water. The soap and fertilizer you use usually do not completely break down and get dumped into the ocean. By using natural soaps and fertilizers we can keep the fish in our oceans alive a few more years.

The most widely talked about, and probably one of the most dangerous pollutants on our planet, is hairspray. You are probably wondering how hairspray could possibly contaminate our earth in any way. Well, it is an aerosol and is one of the largest contributors to depleting our ozone layer. The ozone layer protects us from the harmful (ultraviolet) rays the sun emits and ultimately keeps us from getting skin cancer. By reducing the usage of these three pollutants alone, we could guarantee that our world is healthy enough to support us for decades to come.

What can we do about global warming?

I'm sure you have heard many facts and details about how global warming is affecting our lives, but do you really know what it is? In the literal sense, global warming is the gradual warming of the Earth's atmosphere, caused by the burning of fossil fuels and industrial pollutants. Every year, our Earth's temperature rises and the sea-levels rise, but we have only just begun to realize the changes. Now, due to politicians and actors, we have decided to open our eyes to the harm we are causing to the place we live.

We can slow the effect of global warming by using less energy at home. Every day, we leave lights on and crank up our heat during the winter and the A/C in the summer. By using fluorescent lighting instead of the usual 100 watt incandescent bulb, we can cut down on the heat-trapping pollution. During the winter we can keep windows open to trap the sometimes rare sunlight and cut down on the use of our heating systems. The exact opposite is very efficient for the summer as well. If you keep your windows closed during the day, you can keep the extra heat out of your home and cut down on your air conditioning use.

There are dozens of ways to prevent global warming and keep your world healthy. To find more information go to Fightglobalwarming.com and read up on it.

What can we do to guarantee our Earth will be healthy enough to support the next generation?

In order to guarantee that our world is here for our next generation, we need to clean up our Earth now. Do community service and clean up the streets. Most of the litter we produce is not biodegradable and is the cause for many sea-animal deaths. We can take a few extra seconds in the mornings and evenings and be sure to turn off lights and heating/cooling systems as opposed to letting them run all night. And the most important thing we can do is teach our children about the effects of their actions. Tell them about how taking a few extra minutes of their time to clean up is what could possibly keep them alive. Of course, you should attempt to do this as nicely as possible so that you won't scare them.

Our world is a precious resource, and with its health fading fast, ours is falling closely behind. Most people have yet to realize that their actions today can have very harmful long-term consequences. By doing a couple of things around the house, like switching to fluorescent lights, you could ensure a healthier future for you and the ones you love.

My hope is that this paper has accomplished two very important things. One, that it has given insight into the damage we have caused our planet. And two, that it helps us to understand that the Earth was given to us as a gift, and we have no right to treat it like garbage.