This is How We Clean Up the Planet

I’ve travelled to a lot of countries, and whether it’s the beaches of Vietnam, the river ways of Myanmar or the Northern Caucus Mountains of Georgia there is always trash, and plenty of it. Paper, fabrics, rubber and plastic. Sometimes there is piles of it. And what has become clear is that where there is poverty, there is litter. And that’s not to say there isn’t any in rich countries (there is), but there is so much more in poor countries and in protected areas. While hiking I often pick up a few bag fulls. The last thing people in poverty think about is how to keep the environment around them clean. They could care less about the cleanliness of their beaches, mountains and waterways. They are focused on getting by and feeding their families.

Some suggest we could keep the Earth clean by suggesting bringing a bag, investing in a reusable water bottle, bringing reusable cups, not using single-use items, avoiding products with microbeads, shopping in bulk, making sure waste goes to the right place and composting.1 The issue with these guideliness is they just will not work in impoverished regions. Good luck motivating someone in India to use a reusable water bottle or someone in Cambodia to make sure their waste goes in a trash can, let alone the correct recycle bin. It’s not gonna happen.

So what is the solution?

Enter Wealthy Nations

You’ve probably heard this before, but maybe it never truly clicked in. The key to cleaning up our planet is in the hands of the wealthy nations of the world. They’ve got the money and the influence, and the ability to set an example. Finding our way out of the difficult situations and innovating has been and always will be up to nations that are better off. Wealthy nations can also motivate pooers nations to clean up their environments, and that is often through cash. As the saying goes, “cash is king.”

Three Methods

There are 3 methods to cleanup the ecosystems of some of the world’s most precious environments.

Education

The primary purpose of education when it comes to environmental protection is offering awareness to everyone in a society. Education can provide better awareness of a variety of ecological issues that take place day by day. Everyone in society including kids, youths, adults and mature people can understand and become aware of the various environmental issues if they get proper education on it. Education can give right knowledge on how natural environment functions, and how human beings can deal with behavior and ecosystems for sustainability. In the present day, a lot of people conduct an environmental awareness program in schools and societies. It will help people to become aware of environmental issues and take actions accordingly.

The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.

-Herbert Spencer

Knowledge on How to Protect the Environment

The education system can play a huge role in saving the earth by imparting knowledge on how to protect the environment to people in diverse communities. Saving the environment is a practice of looking after the natural environment on individual, organizational or societal levels for the gains of both the environment and humans. It aids to resolve main problems like acid rain, ozone depletion, climate changes, global warming, etc. Environmental education can be started right from school and can be provided by the use of audio-visual programs, seminars, training programs, awareness campaign, etc.

Knowledgeable Society

There are a lot of environmental issues around the globe. Air pollution, water pollution, unexpected climate change, garbage, and pollution of the natural environment are some of the challenges faced by many other countries in the world. Education plays a massive role in building up a society that is knowledgeable towards the environment and its associated problems. Environmental education teaches individuals and communities to know about the environment and its related issues, become aware of the solutions to the environmental issues, motivate the people to solve the problems and take proper actions to save the environment from potential issues. But in order to be truly effective education must start at an early age.

Solve Complex Issues

Environmental education can help to solve complex issues that are present in a society.  Environmental problems are one of the leading causes of many diseases, health issues and long-term livelihood problems in places like India. So, incorporating education in schools and conducting an environmental awareness campaign in communities can bring people together, discuss the issues, engage with different sorts of people, make practical judgments about various environmental issues and respond to the problems effectively. It will guide people to think seriously, deeply, and productively.

Promote a Holistic Approach

Education on saving the environment or effective environmental protection programs promote a holistic and lead by example approach among people. It allows people to make certain sustainable and fair use of resources devoid of damaging the environment. Effective programs conducted in schools or any other places encourage kids and parents to have discussion at their home. Environmental education strategies include training individuals to prosper in a sustainable society. Education helps people to establish a strong bond with nature. Nature appreciation and awareness education or programs promote an ecologically sustainable future.

Enhance Appreciation of Environment

Education indeed enhances appreciation of the environment amid people. Enhancing the appreciation of the environment among citizens can give rise to overall positive environmental, behavioral change. Air pollution, poor managing of waste, rising water shortage, declining groundwater tables, water pollution, low conservation and quality of forests, biodiversity loss, and land and soil degradation are a few of the main environmental issues faced by the global world. So, education on environmental issues is essential today since it lets people build up skills, foster a dedication to take steps individually and communally to maintain and enhance the environment.

Making a real investment in environmental education is very important since we live in an epoch where more and more people are disconnected from nature and unaware of critical issues. Education is a tool for self-empowerment because it enables us to take serious and effective action. It leads people to be future conservation leaders and encourage them to take serious and effective action towards critical issues of the day.2

Economic Incentives

Motivation through capital is essential. Cleaning up the environment and keeping it clean must be treated like a business, guided by governments and driven by philantropists. There are a few ways to economically incentivize cleaning up the environment. Two of the more popular methods are Emission Reduction Credits (ERCs) or Capped Allowance Systems. ERCs are effectively uncapped trading systems, meaning there is no set limit on the maximum allowable level of pollution within a regulated area. Pollution limits are rate-based, meaning polluters cannot exceed a rate of emissions (e.g. grams per mile for motor vehicles). Polluters earn credits by reducing emissions below their specified rate. Alternatively there is capped allowance system or cap-and-trade system sets a maximum allowable cap on total emissions. The cap is equal to the total number of allowances or permits allocated to a group of polluters.  These allowances are distributed among the individual polluters and the number of allowances held by each firm sets the limit on the amount of pollution they have the right to emit. There are also emissions taxes, fees and charges, subsidies for pollution control, tax-subsidy combinations (e.g. deposit refund systems). Some hybrid approaches including combining standards and pricing approaches, liability rules information disclosure and voluntary actions. The issue with all of these is that poor countries can (1) not afford to take on these programs, (2) do not care to take on these programs or (3) struggle to implement them.3

Cleaning up the environment and keeping it clean must be treated like a business, guided by governments and driven by philantropists

Motivate Individuals

A truly effective economic incentive plan to cleanup the environment must be aimed at the individual, effectively involving everyone and anyone. Surely this could include adding a refund on bottles, cans and even plastics, but a deposit likely won’t work as is typically used in wealthier countries. As most do not have extra cash to deposit money on recyclables that could halt the program. Equally as important, there must be a business driven by individuals to collect trash and cleanup their environment. Funded by governments and philanthopists this could be measured by collection depots. Those qualifiable for the program would go through a hiring process similar to any job to gauge their level of effectiveness, and then be trained accordingly for output and safety.

The only way forward, if we are going to improve the quality of the environment, is to get everybody involved.

-Richard Rogers

Country Cleanliness Score

The world is a competitive place. One thing I’ve discovered traveling is countries are highly competitive with each other. The English claim they are better than the French and the French claim they are better than the Italians. To motivate countries to be better a score between 1 and 10 should be implemented, a low score being dismal with a high score being the highest grade with outstanding quality of water, virtually zero microplastics and conservation practices. Motivation for countries to attain a higher score would be tourism, a higher score would attract more tourists. Certain privileges among wealthier countries would unlocked at scores beyond 7. For example, if a country that scored a 6 was assessed the following year and reached a score of 7 it would be able to advertise that level of competency and thus be a more desirable destination for tourism. Further to that inclusion in trade unions and groups would be unlocked that would have the potential to further advance their economies and generate future wealth.

Conclusion

These are just a few solutions. They might seem simple in practice, but executing them would be a complete different story. Educating the masses in countries with poor education systems will be difficult and take a great deal of volunteership from wealthier nations. It will require that nations that assist committ and do not back out. As with the education there must be an abundance of funding for the economic incentives and it must increase on an annual basis. The country cleaniness score must be agreed on by nations around the world and/or implemented by an organizations like as Glassdoor or BBB (Better Business Bureau). With a unified effort, funding from philanthropists around the world, particularly the top 1% a better future can become a reality. We can clean up our planet from the hangover of industrialization, and keep it inhabitable for generations to come.

References

  1. 8 Ways to Keep the Earth Clean. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. April 18th, 2017.
  2. Importance of Environmental Education. Planning Tank. June 7th, 2016.
  3. Economic Incentives. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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