In order to address the need to be environmentally responsible and to know the rising generation’s take on the deteriorating state of the environment,  SIWA invited students from our sponsor’s international schools and Korean schools that SIWA supports in two divisions, Junior and Senior, to submit essays addressing this year’s theme, #EnvironmentalProtection.

Alex  Kil from Seoul Foreign School submitted this winning essay in the Junior Division. 150,000KRW will be donated to his vetted charity of choice,  Ebenezer’s Home for people with disabilities.

 

Imagine you are visiting planet Earth from another planet. How do you see us treating our planet and preserving it or not preserving it for the future generation? What advice would you give for the inhabitants of planet Earth shape to shape a better future? How can we be more sustainable by our everyday choices and decisions?

Visiting planet Earth from another planet, which is also in the Goldilocks zone, and hence, conducive to life; I see Earthlings treating their planet badly and preserving not preserving it for future generations. Earthlings pollute the natural ecosystems, by littering, dumping waste into oceans and landfills, and wasting natural resources to an excess. Even though there were some people who seem to work diligently to solve this crisis, others merely denied it, finding it a costly inconvenience. The people who deny climate change are severely impeding the progress of others who want to preserve their planet. This was heartbreaking to watch, as half of our planet has been destroyed through similar pollution, due to the lack of unity amongst our people in environmental preservation. I only wish for planet Earth not to suffer the same tragic fate. Hence, I would advise the inhabitants of planet Earth to take urgent action to save the environment by using natural resources wisely and adopting more sustainable practices and energy sources, as this will shape to shape a better future for their planet and themselves.
On my visit, I discovered Earthlings are treating their planet very poorly. In fact, NASA has recorded that Earth’s carbon dioxide level is currently the highest in the last 650,000 years – evidence of Earthling-caused global warming. As such, worryingly, 18 of the 19 hottest temperatures on earth have been recorded since 2001. All this heat is causing the polar ice caps to melt and acidify the oceans and rain. Not only is this disrupting polar ecosystems, but this is also causing natural disasters, including floods and hurricanes. Furthermore, this polar ice cap melting has recently caused lots of immigrants to lose their home as their islands have, and continues to, sink. This, in turn, has generated global chaos as the number of displaced immigrants seeking refuge despite only certain countries being willing to accept them, continues to grow exponentially.
Other catastrophic events that I have witnessed and surely spell doom for Planet Earth if left unimpeded include deforestation. Even if 70% of Earth’s living species live in forests, humans recklessly destroy their homes by cutting down trees at an unsustainable rate. This is counterproductive, because the rainforest of South America alone produce 20% of Earth’s oxygen and 4 hectares of them are being lost every decade. Most human deforestation appears to be due to small-scale agriculture and cattle farming. If it continues, it causes global warming because there are fewer plants to absorb carbon dioxide, reduces rainfall because the lack of plants affects the water cycle, and it causes soil erosion and coastal flooding due to less trees to retain water and topsoil. Already, I, and humans, have witnessed Mother Earth’s rage. 2018 saw Hiroshima, Japan suffer devastating rainfall induced landslides, which killed at least 104 people, despite Japan’s careful physical management of landslides due to a pre-existing susceptibility.
This reveals just how severe, and surprising the effects of deforestation coupled with climate change can be. Similar natural disasters have, even previously, occurred worldwide, begging for urgent action: Dominican Republic, Haiti, and across other several Caribbean islands in September 2017; heavy monsoon rains and flooding in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, in August 2017; Heat wave in India and Pakistan, killing 3,700 people in summer 2015.

I admit, I have seen some people trying to help raise awareness for the urgent action needed to solve these environmental issues. Some such people are the young sisters, Melati and Isabel Wijsen, who inspire hope in Earthlings and myself that, despite the current damage done, there is still hope to solve this crisis. The Wijsen sisters, though only 17 and 15 years old, have single-handedly started a campaign to get rid of plastic in their home island, Bali, which they describe as “a green paradise” and “island of gods” turned into a “paradise lost” and “island of garbage”. The campaign, while it started small, snowballed into a huge movement that even the governor of Bali couldn’t ignore, resolving, with the sisters to solve the issue of plastic as soon as possible. Though only two teenagers, Melati and Isabel have, and continue to, influence the whole of Bali, which was flooded with plastic, to become more of a plastic-free environment. Think how much change we could make if we all worked together, caring even a fraction of what the sisters do.
Yet simultaneously, aggravatingly, some powerful people deny the issue of global warming and environmental endangerment altogether, a quintessential example being Donald Trump. While in the high position as the United States’ president, Trump has previously promoted unfettered oil, coal, and natural gas development and suppresses climate and related science. Now, he seems to be acknowledging climate change, but he has persistently denied this until recently, thus facilitating fossil fuel usage, causing massive environmental damage. This reliance on fossil fuels for the main energy source over other alternative renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy, etc., has resulted in the United States emitting the most fossil fuel per capita as of 2019, 16.5 metric ton per capita. Simultaneously, the U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world by GDP, making the U.S. is one of the few countries that can afford the investment of renewable energy. Therefore, it is awful that Trump’s policy against fossil fuels has led to minimal development of renewable energy. During this time, other similarly wealthy nations like Iceland, have converted to using its energy entirely from renewable resources: 87% from hydro-power and 13% from geothermal power. However even Trump has recently announced that climate change is not a hoax, and it is a serious issue for planet Earth, publicly stated that he will reverse his previous policies for fossil fuels. Hopefully, all deniers similarly wake up.
Advice I would give to Planet Earth’s inhabitants to help shape a more sustainable future includes reducing the amount of energy used in average daily basis by changing to LED lights. While standard light bulbs use 90% of the energy as heat, and only 10% of the energy as light; LED lights use 95% of the energy as light, while only using 5% of the energy as heat. Their efficiency makes them a very practical solution, and the only reason why humans seem to be unwilling to make the swap is because of the cost. However, the cost in the long term, considering government taxes on electricity, not to mention the environment, will be significantly reduced through this simple swap. Reducing meat consumption is another practical solution. 58% of the greenhouse gases are emitted by livestock. More importantly, cows produce 105kg of greenhouse gas per 100g of protein, while other protein sources, such as tofu, only produce less than 3-5kg. Furthermore, 83% of the farmland is used by livestock, whilst the production of calories and proteins only result up to 18 and 37% respectively. Therefore, if humans were to eat less meat, it would significantly reduce pollution of the Earth.
Another piece of advice I would give humans is to use less tree products, or more importantly, palm oil products. Palm oil is the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia. Since palm trees grow in rainforests, they need the same humid temperatures to properly grow as rainforests. Therefore, to take advantage of the same ideal climate for growth, lots of rainforests are being cut down and replaced with palm oil plantations, instead. However, Indonesia is home to many endangered species, such as orangutans, and also responsible for much oxygen emission. It is worrying that more than half of the products in an average human supermarket contain palm oil, due to its established efficiency and cheap cost. If humans reduced the amount of palm oil products they purchase, surely the deforestation rate will be significantly reduced, as less demand would result in less production.
To conclude, having visited planet Earth from Mars, I have observed humans treating their planet atrociously and not preserving it for future generations. They pollute the Earth’s natural ecosystems, litter, dump waste into her oceans and landfills, and waste natural resources excessively. However at the same time, I have seen some humans care for the Earth’s environment. These people give me hope and inspiration that Earth’s fate will not be the same as half of our planet. Like the aforementioned Wijsen sisters that inspired all of Bali to militate for the environment, if more humans started caring and cooperating to implement environmentally safe practices and preserve their finite natural resources; Earth’s natural beauty might be preserved. In this regard, I would advise the inhabitants of planet Earth to take urgent action to save the environment by using natural resources sparingly and adopting more sustainable practices and energy sources. It is only through these measures that they can shape a better future for their planet and themselves.