Editorial: Acting on climate change
This past weekend, students and alumni were able to participate in Homecoming festivities against the backdrop of some nice, unseasonably warm weather. However, while being able to wear shorts while grilling at the tailgate might have made for a pleasant Homecoming experience, these odd weather patterns are a reminder of the more alarming consequences associated with a changing climate. And these consequences may be closer to home than we realize.
Lesa Griffiths, a professor of agriculture and natural resources at the university, is concerned of the effects that these rising temperatures may have on local animals. Having already grown their winter coats, many of these animals are forced to adjust their natural circadian schedules to accommodate the heat. These higher temperatures have not only caused a higher demand for water, but have also introduced heat-associated stress.
While the university has pushed for a number of sustainability efforts in recent years, it has continuously failed to reach its targets. In 2009, according to the university website, the university’s Climate Action Plan detailed endeavors to cut campus-wide emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Today, in 2017, emissions have been reduced by 5.7 percent.
Our campus expends a lot of resources to provide a number of services that go unappreciated and unnoticed. Dining halls mass-produce food for our consumption. The Green is constantly watered, cared for and treated to uphold our groomed and lush image. Clean drinking water is accessible in every academic building.
Because these services have become so expected, we often do not see or understand the environmental consequences they bring.
And while we get to enjoy summer-like weather for a little longer, other places experience severe environmental consequences in response to the changing climate. We should not need to experience tragic natural disasters ourselves to know that something needs to be done. The impact of climate change is important, even if we do not see them. As global citizens, we all have a responsibility for sustainability.
The responsibility needs to fall on the individual.
Many students place garbage in improper receptacles. We leave our water running. We leave the light on when no one is in the room.
The Starbucks line in Smith, for instance, is full between most breaks with the majority of customers using single use cups. Since 2006, Starbucks has used a cup with 10 percent post-consumer recycled paper. However, when consumers use these cups once, and fail to recycle them properly, the supposed sustainability of these cups is diminished.
We can always be more sustainable. We can always take more action. We must demand our institutions to do more. We ourselves must do more. We must recognize and hold ourselves accountable for our errors. We must do better.
Editorials are developed by The Review’s Editorial Board, led this week by Editorial Editor Marissa Onesi. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.