Bliss and peace infused my body. Anger seemed to wilt away for just a moment as I peered at the crevice in the rocks at Surfer’s End in Middletown, Rhode Island.
I immediately noticed a wooden bridge with a rusty chain with several love locks. Legend says that a couple would hang a lock from the bridge and throw the key into the water, symbolizing ever-lasting love.
Suddenly, a thought pierced my brain. However, the thought was not romantic. Instead, rage became my primary emotion.
As I read the flashiest headlines about climate change, I cannot help but recall my moment at Surfer’s End.
We cannot afford to lose places that radiate beauty. An example would be the Great Barrier Reef. Reeling from the sixth mass bleaching event since 1998 this year, 91 percent of the Great Barrier Reef surveyed was affected by this year’s event. However, the reef along with others will not stand a chance in the future.
CNN reported in 2020 that 70 to 90 percent of living coral will vanish in the next two decades. The outlook towards the future looks daunting. “By 2100, it’s looking quite grim,” University of Hawaii Manoa researcher Renee Setter said. If current trends continue, coral could face extinction by the turn of the century.
American coral reefs are not in a fine shape either. The Guardian asserts that scientists believe that 98 percent of Florida’s coral have perished.
Coral remains important to both humans and marine animals. Approximately half a billion people and a quarter of marine animals need coral to survive.
Among coral, other locations in the United States are in peril such as Glacier National Park, and the Grand Canyon. Both would be damaged by the wrath of climate change.
During my walk around the chasm, I spoke to Middletown resident and grandmother of six, Sheila Fair. Fair voiced her concern for the region sharing her routine walks along the path.
Fair also pointed out how Surfer’s End could be in danger as well. “I want this place to be here for my grandchildren,” said Fair. Without action, Fair’s hope cannot be salvaged.
However, the federal government decides to push the cries of pain aside and make decisions based on their interests.
If I had a love lock, I would dedicate it to a healthy environment and throw the key away forever. However, politicians seem to have the key ready when legislation does not benefit them personally.
Climate policies stalling in Congress is a worrying trend. While Senate Democrats negotiated a deal with Senator Joe Manchin on the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’, the legislation was derailed because Senator Manchin refused to cooperate, leading to a weaker bill.
Another important bill yet to leave committee is the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act (BFPA) to limit plastic pollution. The act was introduced last year.
The reworked bill faced stiff opposition from Congressional Republicans, with all voting against the package, however it passed both chambers. And how can I blame Republicans for their greed? Public Citizen shared that 94 percent of lobbyist money from Big Oil ends up in Republican banks.
The Senate in general amasses a great amount of wealth from fossil fuels. 28 Senators own up to $12.6 million of fossil fuel funding.
The Supreme Court does not help either. On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot set regulations on carbon-based emissions.
Limiting the EPA will bring consequences if Congress continues the streak of inaction.
As a teenager, I am livid. We are talking about my future here. Not Clarence Thomas’s nor Mitch McConnell’s. Leaders are elected to represent our nation, not themselves.
The concerning trend of inaction puts my future in jeopardy. We cannot allow climate change to continue its rampage on humans. The future deserves a healthy world like the past.
At the end of our talk, Fair showed me the lock for her grandchildren. A yellow lock with six initials written on top with a black heart with the letter “G” for herself. I urge politicians to place their lock on the bridge for my generation’s future – and throw away the key.