Taking action to address the climate crisis

December 15, 2021

While individual actions can make a difference, they cannot solve climate change alone: we must take bold, collective action to address climate change and its social and economic impacts. (Sophia Liu (’24))

Imagine our world in 2050. Do you envision gleaming cities basked in a futuristic glow, sparkling with towering skyscrapers and bullet trains winding through the streets? Or, perhaps you see a world where disease and disaster run rampant: a place where temperatures rise high enough to cook human flesh and you can barely walk outside without your throat filling with pollution; where entire cities have sunk below rising sea levels and hundreds of species of wildlife have been lost. Unfortunately, the latter is no longer just an outlook shared by pessimists: the climate apocalypse is a reality that our planet and all life on it will be forced to confront in the future, unless we take action now.

As youth, perhaps the most important way we can address climate change is through educating ourselves and those around us, as well as voicing concerns and demanding action. For many people, climate change may not yet have direct, conspicuous effects on their daily lives, giving the illusion that climate change is a far-off issue. This, however, is far from the truth: according to a study published in the journal Science, if climate change continues to accelerate on its current trajectory, today’s average 6-year-old will live through about three times as many climate change disasters as their grandparents. This number is exacerbated in developing countries such as sub-Saharan Africa, where today’s infants are projected to experience 50 to 54 times as many climate disasters as someone born in the prior to the industrial era. With such dire situations, we shouldn’t just stick our heads in the sand: we need to change our mindsets and attitudes about climate change and look to take initiative.

As with any important issue, raising awareness for climate change is a crucial step towards taking action. Especially in the age of social media and modern technology, it is easier than ever to advocate for a cause and inform yourself and those around you. Students further take action by forming and joining teams to focus on climate action, from school clubs and local organizations to national organizations and campaigns.

Moreover, we can also implement changes into our own lifestyles to be more eco-friendly.

For example, students can reduce carbon emissions by looking for opportunities to carpool or take public transportation, such as by carpooling with a friend or taking the bus to school. Driving is the largest contributor to the average household’s carbon footprint and can contribute approximately 55% of household carbon emissions, according to the American Public Transportation Association. But taking school buses (or even carpooling with friends) can prevent a lot of carbon emissions. Just one school bus replaces around 36 cars on the road — which collectively keeps about 17 million cars off the road daily, prevents over 62 billion miles from being driven by family cars annually, and saves 3 billion gallons of gas annually.

Another way students can help the environment is by eating less meat. This doesn’t have to mean going vegan: simply striving to eat one or even two meat-free meals on a weekly basis can make a big difference. In fact, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, if every American ate one meat-free meal a week, the resulting reduction in carbon emissions would be equivalent to taking over 5 million cars off the road annually.

Our planet has been teetering on the edge of irreversible damage and only by taking action and holding ourselves accountable can we give future generations the gleaming, beautiful world that we have dreamed of.

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