King for a day: We need to work to put out these fires

An+artist%27s+interpretation+of+the+writer+and+his+comments+on+the+environment.

Jacqueline Chang

An artist’s interpretation of the writer and his comments on the environment.

Tyler Pak

This is the fifth and final part of a series of stories written by five of Accolade‘s top editors as if they were to be “Kings for a day” — all of which originally appeared in the “Photo Finish” special section, which focused on the upcoming Nov. 3 general election in our Oct. 30 print issue. The full issue can be read here. One story will be posted per day until Election Day on Nov. 3. 

They’ve lost everything.

Their homes, their possessions, their lives — everything they’ve worked to attain has degraded to nothing more than fuel to feed the orange sky. 

No rain is coming to save them; instead, the gray ash that falls from above taunts those affected and futhers the pollution and health hazards for everyone — as if the deadly fires, crumbling buildings and toxic smoke were not enough. 

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of people have fallen victim to the flames that scorched over 5 million acres of land in the West Coast, and killed over 30 people. 

Something needs to change.

Thus, if I were King for a Day, I’d decree: we must pass the necessary legislation to prevent our planet from getting any worse. 

We must instate quotas and regulations that limit the pollution emitted by big businesses. In 2018, The Guardian reported that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions. These regulations would stop these businesses from continuing to add fuel to the fire. 

We must collaborate with other countries to solve this global issue. In 2017, our president stated his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement — a coalition of almost 200 countries that have agreed to stall global warming and improve countries’ abilities to deal with climate change. By exiting the agreement, we’re preventing other countries from bettering themselves. Again, this isn’t just about us — this is a global issue.  

Our environmental issues are only continuing to get worse; the fires we see now are just the beginning. We may not see the full effects of our actions during our lifetimes, but we must think about the future — the world we leave behind. 

Finally, we must implement, within our education system, a curriculum to inform our youth of the consequences they and the rest of the world will face if they continue to follow our example. These are the people who will inherit the earth; if we educate them now, they can begin to establish good habits in their daily lives that will lead to significant change over time. When they eventually become our lawmakers, they’ll have a good enough understanding of our climate to make the best possible decisions.  

I, for one, would like my kids to see blue when they look up at the sky.