On average, Americans produce 250 million tons of trash per year. That is about 4.40 pounds of waste produced daily by one individual person.1 With such an abundant amount of waste produced by just America alone, it’s a wonder how our planet does not yet emulate that of the Pixar movie, Wall-E.
Already, California is starting to feel the effects of global warming and California’s ongoing drought. The Salton Sea, a large but shallow lake made by the flooding of the Colorado River, is located near the grand tourist attraction, Palm Springs. At the peak of Salton Sea in the 1950’s, resorts were built along its shore. With the large amounts of fish inhabiting the lake, it became one of the largest fisheries in California, its number of visitors surpassing that of the Yosemite.2
However, after many years of tropical storms with no way for the water to flow out of it, the lake grew saltier and saltier, the ecosystem of the Salton Sea deteriorating and no longer being about to sustain and support the resorts around it and the fish in it.3 Although a plan to install a canal was proposed, no action was actually taken. If we continue to use and abuse our environment without taking action to make it better than how we found it, Earth will be left in ruins, one small lake at a time.
Wall-E emphasizes that if humans fail to protect the planet we live on, it will be reduced to nothing but a bleak, brown shell of what it used to be. But as humans, it is in our nature to evaluate the costs and the benefits of doing something, including preserving the earth. If we know that there are other frontiers available for us to exploit at a cheaper cost than it is to protect the planet, such as space in Wall-E, we would rather go with the route with less risk, even if it is selfish.
One way politicians could illustrate that plan would be to sell the idea of progress and the future. They could go on about their utopic vision of where they see humanity in 50 years and what kind of environment their grandchildren will live in–one with mobile chairs and technology right at their convenience. But is what would be claimed as “progress” really progress?
With more resources available within reach, humans would be given reason to keep to themselves. In Wall-E, hints of human affection are rare, all their time is spent on working, eating, and staying in the little bubble that is their chair. Although the future is painted as new and exciting, progression actually causes humans to regress toward their former savage state.
1 “Municipal Solid Waste.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, archive.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/web/html/.
2 Iovenko, Chris. “Toxic Dust From a Dying California Lake.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 9 Nov. 2015, www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/11/the-airborne-toxic-lake-event/414888/.
3 OurWorld20. “What Happened Here, At The Salton Sea?” Our World, ourworld.unu.edu/en/what-happened-here-at-the-salton-sea.
Wall-E on Trash Pile: “Brian Terrill’s 100 Film Favorites – #30: “WALL-E”.” Earn This, earnthis.net/brian-terrills-100-film-favorites-30-wall-e/.
Dead Tilapia on the Salton Sea: Iovenko, Chris. “Toxic Dust From a Dying California Lake.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 9 Nov. 2015, www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/11/the-airborne-toxic-lake-event/414888/.