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Conservation is a passionate talking point for students given our proximity to rivers and wildlife at Texas state. And unless one is anti-science or working to make a quick buck, we all understand the gravitas of climate change. Yet it is not merely the actions of individuals which need to change in order to aid our ecosystems, but our economic system which places profits over people.

In 2019 the SMTX city council voted to annex nearly 1,000 acres of land slated for heavy industry less than a quarter of a mile from the river. The SMART Terminal is touted to bring us millions in revenue, its construction fast-tracked despite local protests. As neoliberal capitalism continues increasing wealth inequality among the ruling and working classes, so too do its factories decrease our health.

Since the 1950s companies have successfully fooled the general public that the blame for Earth’s dire straits lay on us rather than global capitalist industries. No matter how much we recycle or how many bicycles we ride, it will never compare to the enormous, continual pollution factories produce. In fact, most of the plastic Americans recycle ends up in Chinese rivers after we ship it overseas because it is more cost effective. Bluntly put, the only truly effective means of reducing our carbon footprint is to either have fewer children or else shift our economic system away from the profit motive. While some companies commodify the concept of going green, the practicality of ecological production under an inherently expansionist system is fundamentally impossible.

I’m not suggesting we all become eco-anarchists overnight. But we must realign our thought processes away from personal actions and focus on larger societal change. Until we begin holding our corporatocracy accountable, this new odious gasmask-Earth will continue suffocating

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