Students should be hot under the collar about global warming

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By Maggie Sawant, First Year Law

I could not enjoy the record-breaking warm winter weather. I was overwhelmed by a sickening feeling of dread and helplessness whenever I saw the clear blue sky.

As highly-educated people, we suspect that the weather is a consequence of climate change. But we refuse to admit it.

We dismiss the weather as a freak event, assuring ourselves it will go back to normal.

But the fact is that this bizarre occurrence should never have happened: it is directly related to climate change, as confirmed by the Met Office.

It is easier to drink a beer in College Green than it is to confront the horrifying reality of global warming, and by doing so, we are passively accepting global inaction regarding climate change.

Contributing to our lack of constructive action is the feeling that we, as individuals, can do nothing to mitigate climate change.

One cannot stop China building coal-fired power stations in developing nations, prevent Brazil increasing its fossil fuel consumption, or force countries to meet emissions reductions targets.

Even at the domestic level our government refuses to declare a climate emergency. It is an international problem – we are merely individuals, in one tiny country: how can we make any tangible change?

Another factor that explains our failure to act is that we just do not care enough about climate change.

It is easier to drink a beer in College Green than it is to confront the horrifying reality of global warming

We know it is happening – but as long as it is not directly affecting us, why should we care? It is good for us: we briefly experienced summer in the middle of a bleak winter. But that is not the case for everyone.

Millions of the world’s most vulnerable people are already suffering at the hands of climate change. Farmers in Niger are struggling to feed their families because of desertification. Kiribati islanders face being forced to leave their homes due to rising sea levels. However, to us, their misery seems remote. It is not until there is a real crisis, affecting lives and economic interests closer to home, in a way that seems directly caused by climate change, that anyone will start to act.

But we cannot wait for this disaster to happen. The climate is giving us a warning that we must heed.

If our generation continues to be so passive about such a great threat to humanity, I have no hope for the future. We know the dangers and we carry on doing nothing because we are de-motivated by the government’s disinterest in tackling climate change, and climate change has not yet had any detrimental effect upon our lives.

It is not until there is a real crisis, affecting lives and economic interests closer to home, in a way that seems directly caused by climate change, that anyone will start to act.

But we cannot allow this to form an insurmountable barrier to taking constructive action.

As citizens in a democratic society, we must use our power to pressure government to become more proactive in the fight against climate change. We can attend protests such as the Youth Strike 4 Climate and join ‘green’ societies such as the People and Planet Society.

We can use our unique position as tomorrow’s leaders, the generation responsible for tackling global warming, to end the climate crisis.

Having seen a poster arguing much the same pinned in the ASS library, I am glad that I am not alone. On the issue, People and Planet Society had this to say:

‘Freak weather events like 18° heat in February just weeks after a heavy bout of snow are further evidence of a growing climate crisis. In making these posters, we want all students to know that behind this beautiful weather is a worrying truth - the government is not taking the right kind of action on climate change, and we all need to act now to prevent the disastrous consequences of global warming.’

It is time to use our collective voice to implement change. It is time to put down that beer and join the protests.

Featured image: Unsplash/Jeremy Bishop

Do you think we should have treated the heatwave with more concern?

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