In terms of social issues, elementary school students, junior high students and high school students are often times limited in perspective, resources and opportunities. Adults lack time and are posed with the risk of damaging their career-related reputation or losing their job. However, college students have perspective, resources, time and opportunities to actively stand up for their beliefs in protests, campaigns and social networking. As college students, it is our role to shape the future and leave a positive example for future generations to follow. Despite having nearly nothing to lose and all to give to a cause, we lack passion and reasons to care.
An extremely pressing issue that is currently affecting us all, but is being silenced, is climate change. Here are some larger issues that climate change elicits that shouldn't be silenced.
1. It diminishes the value of a person.
Capitalism and consumerism burn fossil fuels to generate thousands of dollars off of disposable items at the expense of polluting the environment. Living in a throwaway society fueled by consumerism makes it a norm to carelessly dump people and objects when they no longer meet our needs and expectations. We find it convenient to just toss something out to pile up in a landfill, instead of investing our time into sustaining it. Our craving for instant gratification has led us to treat our relationships like objects.
2. It further contributes to a patriarchal society.
Rising temperatures caused by climate change further intensify riverbank erosion. Homes in countries in the global south, such as in Bangladesh, are located on the edge of riverbanks, which make them highly susceptible to flooding, forcing citizens to abandon their flooded homes and migrate from their villages and into the cities of Dhaka.
In the city, education is costly, whereas in the village it was free. How can these people afford an education when they literally lost their homes? Since these families cannot afford to send their children to school, girls are forced to be married off earlier to alleviate their family of further economic stress. If the girl’s family can’t afford the dowry, the male’s parents will torture and abuse the girl until the dowry is fully paid. So as we continue to pollute and pollute and put more carbon dioxide emissions up into the atmosphere, which causes sea levels to rise and riverbank erosion to persist, more and more girls are being forced into this cycle of oppression with a limited future.
This fosters a system of patriarchy, in which men are dominant in society, which forces women to become dependent on them. Dr. Julia Mason says that, "This patriarchal mentality that leads to the domination and oppression of women is directly connected to the social mentality that leads to the abuse and exploitation of the environment." We’ve feminized N\nature to the point where we even call our earth a mother — Mother Nature. But if she’s our mother, then why do we abuse, disrespect and exploit her?
3. Our future children won't get to see that Santa's reindeer were once real.
According to Russel Graham, associate professor of geosciences and director of the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum at Penn State University, climate change will harm animals accustomed to life in the arctic. These animals, which include reindeer, caribou, polar bears, arctic foxes and walruses, have insulated fur and a lack of sweat glands. What keeps them warm during the winter, however, becomes a detriment to them in the hotter and longer summers that are caused due to climate change. Will our future children even believe in Santa Claus knowing that some of his helpers no longer exist?
4. It will make conditions for the poor worse.
Poor communities are most susceptible to environmental disasters due to their location, lack of resources and and lack of attention. Less affluent communities are already surrounded by a polluted environment, which is a large health concern. Climate change would intensify air, water, thermal and noise pollution, which would then intensify the health concerns of lung problems, food and water insecurities, heat strokes or psychological damage.
5. Ignoring It makes us less empathetic.
Just because climate change isn't directly affecting the region you are living in, doesn't mean it isn't happening elsewhere. Also, there's no harm in setting a good example for future generations to take care of the earth that everybody lives on.
As a college student, it may seem nearly impossible to create impactful change, however, change can be achieved right on campus! It could be as easy as buying used dorm decor from Amazon that would've otherwise ended up in a landfill. Or using bar soap instead of bottled soap, which would reduce the use of plastics. An abundance of usable dorm decor could be created from our own waste as well, such as revamping a cardboard box to store miscellaneous items in or reusing a jar to store supplies in. Voting for representatives who believe in climate change could also speak volumes for policy changes.
If you don’t feel the need to reduce your waste because you don’t believe in climate change, then do it in the name of love and respect for humankind. If there’s something, anything to believe in, it's love. Don’t let the fluorescent store lights of consumerism blind you. Everybody wants love and respect. It's something you can’t purchase at a genuine value.
Lead Image Credit: Gian-Reto Tarnutzer via Unsplash