8 May 2023
Dooming headlines, sweeping protests and condemning scientists have diluted the meaning of the climate crisis. For years, the term “global warming” has become widely publicized without presenting concrete solutions at the local level. We must take action to confront this.
As an engineer, I live to solve problems iteratively, beginning with a thorough understanding of the issue at hand. Improving the environment is simple, but we must first consider what the climate crisis means for Nevada. What are the implications for a state hemmed in a blanket of harmful emissions? What is causing this phenomenon and how can we address it?
We in Las Vegas are geographically cursed: The valley is surrounded by mountainous regions that trap cold, polluted air at lower levels while warm air hovers above. This makes it difficult for harmful emissions to disperse into the upper atmosphere. This pollution is generated by a wide range of sources, from automobiles to laundromats, and even tourists. We’ve all seen the familiar sight of the Las Vegas Strip strewn with plastics and garbage, shrouded in a dense blanket of smog. Although the geographical location of the valley and the state’s excessive levels of pollution can seem like a daunting challenge, it is important to remember that we can all play a role in creating positive change in our state.
At the foundation of all environmental solutions is advocacy: a crucial aspect of communication and contribution in any society. In Nevada, we can make a significant impact by advocating for a cleaner, more efficient community. Additionally, supporting government initiatives can create a tremendous impact at the highest levels of leadership. While we cannot control all factors that contribute to environmental degradation, we can still take action today by adopting the “Environmental ABCs.”
Advocate: Direct advocacy through the legislative system is something that I’ve recently been captivated by, and I feel obligated to share an easy way to get involved. The most effective way to convey an opinion is through the NELIS website, which allows users to search, track and support any legislative bill they choose.
Writing a short paragraph expressing your support for a bill is a simple yet effective way to make your voice heard. There are great examples from past legislative sessions — bills such as SB448 and AB405 have made it through previous sessions and still have a positive impact today. Many people don’t realize just how easy the process is. Together, we can make a difference by speaking up and advocating for the change we want to see in our government.
Be mindful: Making mindful actions toward sustainability is another way of advocating for a better future for ourselves and our planet. We are all tired of hearing about how bad plastic straws are. Instead, opt for metal straws, reusable bags and fewer containers on the next grocery trip. Look for products that are made from sustainable materials or have eco-friendly certifications.
If you enjoy saving money and the environment, be mindful of your water usage, especially as we live in the desert. Take shorter showers, fix leaks promptly and consider installing low-flow fixtures. Every act of mindfulness, no matter how small, contributes to a greater good beyond what we can see in the moment. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “There is power in numbers and there is power in unity.”
Conserve: Conserving energy and supporting sustainable practices are forms of advocacy that promote a cleaner and more eco-friendly world. Prevent emissions and conserve resources by carpooling or using public transportation. Consider switching to an electric vehicle if possible. While they may be costly, the long-term benefits to the environment and potential cost savings on fuel and maintenance make them worthwhile investments. Millions of people, including myself, have already made the transition.
Use energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs in your home. Long-lasting LED bulbs reduce energy usage and annoying climbs to the ceiling. Support local farmers and businesses that prioritize sustainability. This can help further reduce your food’s and other products’ carbon footprint. Let us embrace a deeper relationship with our planet and work collaboratively to coexist with all it has to offer.
Too often articles about global warming and our climate paint a bleak, confusing picture of our future. In practice, advocating for solutions at the local level is the most effective way to inspire positive change. While the climate crisis may not cause an abrupt end to all of humanity tomorrow, it is still important that we do not lose sight of our environmental goals. After all, this is our planet, our state and our cities within Nevada. Improving our environment will benefit everyone, and with straightforward steps as simple as the ABCs, it’s a no-brainer.
Taylor Lemons studies engineering at Southwest Career and Technical Academy. He has actively promoted the cause of environmental conservation and advocated for the adoption of electric vehicles in his community. Additionally, he has held leadership positions on various sports teams and administrative positions in a clinical environment.