Editor’s note: This article, reprinted from the Gaucho Gazette student newspaper, is part of a four-piece package on the relationship between preservation and industrialization.


‘‘Humanity is sitting on a time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just 10 years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet’s climate system into a tail-spin of epic destruction …”

This quote, spoken by Al Gore in his movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” embodies the fear that is driving the modern environmental movement. Producers and consumers search endlessly for “green” items, such as reusable bags, energy efficient cars, and sustainable foods, all in the hope of protecting the planet from the harmful byproducts of civilization. However, in a society where the desire for wealth and industry often takes priority over environmental conservation, living an eco-friendly lifestyle proves difficult.

Senior Chis Wynkoop is one of many students who has developed an active interest in preservation and the environment.

“Seeing ‘FOOD INC.’ in AP Environmental Studies got me interested in watching documentaries about our environment and the industries that run it,” he said. “From there, I read tons of undercover investigations about animal agriculture and the horror stories behind how meat, milk, and eggs get onto our plates. Other documentaries on waste management and trash islands really opened my eyes to how wasteful I was.”

Wynkoop’s growing awareness of damage done to the environment prompted his support of the idea of conservation, or the practice of protecting the environment for the benefit of the the planet and/or humans.

“Conservation is huge. Humans can’t survive without the rest of the Earth and its resources,” he said. “I think one of our jobs as humans is to make sure the planet is in a better condition than it started as. It’s important that future generations and other species can thrive off the planet like we and those before us have been able to.”

Senior Andrew Wynkoop shares his brother’s passion for environmental concern, as well as conservation. He is also able to identify why humanity has struggled to preserve the state of the planet.

“One reason why society struggles with conservation efforts is that U.S. political parties are funded and paid off by large corporations that often maintain destructive habits towards the environment,” Andrew said. “Companies like Coca-Cola pollute water sources all around the world and drain natural reserves, but since Coke pays off government groups such as the EPA, they get away with their environmentally destructive profiteering.”

However, even though the actions of major corporations cannot be stopped by the common citizen, Andrew maintains that awareness of environmental issues is a huge factor in fixing the problem.

“Although films like ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ help with awareness, a lot of people still don’t understand that plastics do not just disappear or that exhaust from a car does not just float into space,” he said. “Everything that happens in this atmosphere and environment, will stay in the atmosphere and environment.”

Even when people do endeavor to conserve and be environmentally conscious, many attempt to do in a minimally helpful way.

“People don’t know what the most effective ways to help conserve are. Americans think that buying fuel efficient cars, and Cfls, and reusable water bottles are the pinnacle of being an environmentalist. That’s just supporting environmental tycoons,” Chris said. “I think these are good steps to take, but that’s all that most Americans will do. They think they’ve done their job and stop. People need to realize what the most important conservation efforts are and support them.”

Though there are several environmental issues threatening our world, both brothers believe the present and dangerous issue is animal agriculture.

“Animal agriculture causes more global warming than every other source combined. It is also the leader in toxic air, water, and soil pollution. If Al Gore drove a Hummer, people would consider him a hypocrite; however, the truth of the matter is that since he eats meat, he is contradicting everything he supposedly stands for,” Andrew said.

In order to combat these problems, the Wynkoops encourage and perform environmentally healthy actions. However, they stress that people must take larger steps in order to preserve the environment.

“We need to start making change happen, and fast. Vote to change how our government looks at energy. Try supporting local businesses and products manufactured under somewhat strict regulations,” Chris said. “Try avoiding driving everywhere and if you really want to make a difference, then try not eating meat once a week and if that works out try two times a week and so on.”

Industrialization is often thought to be antagonistic toward the environment. However, Chris is optimistic regarding the future of the relationship between industrialization and environment.

“We have seen the worst of of industrialism in the form of early America, and also today’s oil and animal agriculture but we are also witnessing movements to utilize higher level technologies,” Chris said. “New ways to generate energy aren’t up to par with other technologies, but will eventually catch on as long as people are willing to spend more on things like alternate energy projects.”