I have been living in Europe for the past month. While here, I have noticed three things. One: I love it here; do not take me back to the land with the orange president. Two: There are no free plastic bags. And three: why in the world are there so many political parties?
I will start with Two because I cannot handle One.
Basically, in Europe, unless you are going to a small mom-and-pop store, you will be handed your purchases in a paid-for plastic bag, your own bag, or sin-bag.
This is not a new thing here, either. All the way back in January of 2016, the Netherlands banned free plastic bags from even being a thing.
The Netherlands are not alone in this. One year ago, Germany signed a deal to cut their usage of plastic bags, and the EU as a whole has promised to cut plastic bag usage by 80 percent in the next 15 years. For Heaven's sake, they even created a Bag Free Day on July 3rd. Happy Bag-Free Day. But plastic bags are just a small component of working towards more environmentally and sustainable lifestyles and policies.
And the US is falling behind.
This lag is going to hit us hard.
While half of our nation, and specifically that one individual in the Executive Branch, refuse to acknowledge climate change, much less not call it a hoax, Europe is leading the way in transitioning its energy systems to renewables and creating sustainable infrastructure.
Germany has a baby that the whole nation helped cultivate called the Energiewende. Long story short, the Energiewende is an energy transition promise, wherein Germany will cut CO2 emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050, phase out coal and nuclear energy, increase renewable energy production and decrease energy consumption, among other targets.
This energy transition brings me quite close to tears. Yeah, it is absolutely amazing that Germany is fighting climate change and using wind and solar at such intense, innovative levels; but what gets me is that the whole nation wants this.
Everyone in Germany is for the Energiewende. Economists, dog sitters, vloggers, cashiers, CEOs and even politicians are all overwhelmingly for the Energiewende.
That is not happening in the U.S. It is not even occurring at a fraction of the pace. The "leader" of the states does not want to create sustainable policy. That individual wants to disgustingly cyberbully TV hosts on his Twitter.
The U.S. is failing.
And that brings me to Three.
That individual only came to power because our political and social systems are going haywire. We are a country of oppositions. And when I say "oppositions", I mean it in the sense that not only do we have two opposing political parties, but that the ideologies of those political parties are only created on platforms constructed against the opposing "side".
In the U.S., we have Democrats and we have Republicans. And we have liberals and we have conservatives.
However, it is more than that.
Democrats are liberals, but Democrats are also anti-Republican. Republicans are conservatives, but they are also anti-Democrat.
We are a nation of hate.
Our system is broken, and when you throw climate change into this oppositional state of States, the substance of the issue is torn apart by the dichotomy of ideas.
Meanwhile in Europe, many nations like the Netherlands, Germany and France have multi-party political systems. And so, when they bring issues like climate change to the table, the substance of the issues is not torn apart by the dichotomy of ideas; but rather, the issues are discussed due to the diversity of ideas.
The US has a problem. And I don't know how to solve it. But I do know we must resist.
Because Trump shouldn't be president. But he is.
And I shouldn't feel the need to write a rant on plastic bags. But I just did.