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Individuals have the power to enact large-scale change

The goal of saving our planet’s polluted environment appears daunting or impossible to the individual. For many people, such a large goal seems out of their control. We’ve all heard it a million times: “What difference will it make if I recycle this can?” “What difference will it make if only I use clean energy, when my neighbor isn’t?” Ironically, if every person who doubted the possibility of his personal impact actually recycled or used clean energy, we would be living on a less-threatened Earth.

I can understand that individuals have a hard time grappling with large-scale change. However, each of us has an individual will, and the ability to act on it. Our actions through human history show that we’re capable of creating large-scale change, whether physical change or social change. Within just the last couple of hundred years, the United States eradicated slavery and gave women historically unparalleled rights. Humans can circumnavigate the world from the safety of motorized vehicles, and have invented ways to speak to each other in real time across oceans. Individuals caused these changes. Some of these achievements were unfathomable at the turn of the 19th century, and yet here we are in a completely different social and physical environment.

We have, as a planet, realized that our environment is threatened. As individuals, let’s not wait until the effects of environmental pollution come to our backyard, as it unfortunately did for many unlucky enough to be in the path of Hurricane Sandy. Let’s look ahead to the future, and change our social values and habits about environmental pollution, so that we have a chance to physically change our social environment.

Irene Rekhviashvili

Buffalo