Picture this: Every day, millions of Americans enjoy the great outdoors. People of all ages dive into cool, blue oceans and babbling rivers across the United States. Others visit local and National parks, hiking steep mountains and running through green fields sprinkled with tall trees and sweet-smelling flowers in every color. They pick and snack on apples and berries along their paths, breathing in the crisp outdoor air. Birds soar overhead. Insects buzz and flutter through the breeze. Sunshine gleams down upon the earth.

Now, picture this: The surrounding environment is actually deteriorating— silently suffering—and harming these people all the while. The waters are polluted with gas and oil fuel from boats. The foliage is covered with herbicides and pesticides. The “crisp” outdoor air is filled with smoke and smog from factories and motor vehicles. The animals become sickened. The sun’s rays continually overheat the earth. The cause of this destruction: humans.

The environment suffers every day as a result of human actions, and humans alike suffer from our own destructive tendencies. Air is polluted from human actions like driving cars and operating fossil fuel-burning power plants; breathing in that polluted air leads to lung diseases like asthma. Water is polluted from human actions like hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking) and dumping chemicals; drinking polluted water leads to cancers. Humans and the environment are not separate. They are intertwined. We are a part of nature and rely on nature to exist.

Environmental problems are not new. But the environment has been evolving into a deeply partisan issue since the 1980s. Democrats primarily believe that environmental problems exist and are harmful while Republicans tend to not believe or care that environmental problems exist. This polarization has even made its way into the court system. In fact, the conservative 2009 Supreme Court decision in Summers v. Earth Island Institute constrained the ability of plaintiffs to bring successful environmental lawsuits by implementing higher standing and ripeness requirements. And more recently, the Trump Administration and numerous Republican politicians have pushed for fewer environmental regulations, in part by supporting rollbacks on existing regulations. These rollbacks include repealing the Clean Power Plan and the Stream Protection Rule. This partisan divide has led to an increase in environmental problems and, by extension, an increase in human health problems.



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