Innovations worth celebrating on Earth Day

Innovations worth celebrating on Earth Day

Stewardship of the land is a communal and individual responsibility. Image courtesy of

Earth Day reminds us to pick up our trash, recycle more and be environmentally conscious. The quick changes that have taken place in our climate since the Industrial Revolution have resulted in more extreme weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes and floods have been increasing worldwide in numbers and average intensity over the last couple of decades.

While I don’t think climate change is a direct cause of the recent Texas flooding, I think the severity of the flooding was increased due to our mismanagement of natural resources.

At the end of last year, 195 countries agreed to combat climate change at COP21, the Paris climate conference. All countries pledged to reduce their carbon emissions by 60-65 percent by 2030. Getting a whole country full of different private industries to change their output must be enforced swiftly if a country is expected to reduce their total emissions by half in just under 15 years. Meeting the expectations set at COP21 will not be easy, but I think with new developments and materials becoming more readily available at a lower cost, the future looks bright for us.

While electricity from coal and natural gas is still cheaper, the price per megawatt hour in solar and wind generated electricity has significantly decreased over the last decade. Wind power is slightly cheaper than solar, but the cost that goes into building a wind farm is greater than that of a solar farm. Both types of renewable energy sources have their limitations though, as wind farms are most effective offshore or on the foothills of a mountain range.

China, one of the largest polluters, is already experimenting with carbon reducing emissions. As a country, it is currently leading the world in research towards clean energy.

On a more local level, Grand Forks has increased its recycling tonnage by 63 percent in the last 10 years. Recycling began in 1990 with curbside pickup. Aluminum and tin cans, glass bottles and jars, cardboard, paper, magazines, mail, paperboard and mixed plastic containers can all be recycled and reused.

As a whole, I think millennials are more environmentally conscious than older generations. This may be due to the education we’ve received in the classroom and at home. It may also be due to the forms of media we wish to consume and share. Regardless, I hope as a generation, we can lead by example and be known as a generation that shifted the tide with our innovations  and respect for sustainable practices.

The future of our energy dependence looks green now instead of black. Since Earth Day is today, I think it’s worth celebrating our achievements in renewables while staying proactive in the future.

Nick Sallen is the opinion editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]