Acting Against Climate Change

We are all aware of climate change and its catastrophic effects, but why do we carry on thinking that we won’t be around to witness them? I’m sure we have all noticed the weather’s mercurial moods. One day I’m wearing a cute, floral dress and the next I’m wearing a thick pea coat with a scarf and boots. Winter hardly felt like winter this year, ruined by the frequent 80-degree weather. If we continue to ignore the glaring issue, we may be around for the ugly apocalypse that many scientists have warned us about for years.

Coastal flooding, severe droughts, and stronger storms are just a few effects. We’ve heard of those before, but many people fool themselves with thinking it won’t affect them directly. Coastal flooding would devastate areas near the shore, increased drought and severe downpours would lead to widespread hunger, especially in third-world countries, and extreme storms would damage many necessities we take for granted such as electricity, running water and emergency services. I doubt most of us can survive without electricity.

We must first rid ourselves of the perception that we won’t be around when the effects of climate change start taking place. At the least, our children or children’s children will be around, which is depressing when you think about it. As a future parent, I’d want to protect my family. Preferably, without the threatening tsunamis or floods. We must think of the earth as our home and take care of it accordingly rather than thinking “Oh I’ll be dead before anything happens anyway.” If we continue to harbor such destructive thoughts, we will be finding ourselves amidst a natural disaster before you know it.

Thinking that we can’t do anything about climate change on an individual level is also another poisonous perception we need to trash. I have witnessed many people, myself included, say things like, “There’s no point in carpooling because two cars won’t make a difference anyway on our environment.” Realizing that if I am thinking this, it is likely other people are as well. Obviously, if we all think we can’t make a difference individually, we won’t be able to change a thing about our planet. But it works the other way as well: if we all do something individually, it will make all the difference.

There are many of us who know how to make a difference but give up simply because it’s easier. If I really want a Hummer for a car, it would be hard for me to change my mind even if I know it’s unhealthy for the environment. I would buy it anyway because it’s easier than convincing myself otherwise.

We need to be smarter than that. The smart way is to look at the advantages of the right decision and focus on it. We literally have to argue with the devil inside us and find every reason to convince ourselves not to buy a Hummer. For instance, a Hummer would be a waste of money since it only gives 14 miles a gallon. It’s understandable to give in when we are faced with an issue that seems unavoidable and larger than us, but climate change is a global issue that takes individuals like us to fix it.

As college students, there are many ways to lessen the harmful effects of climate change that are easily doable. Recycling bottles, paper and plastic saves energy. Our school campus has recycling bins that allow us to do this and some nearby apartments have a dumpster dedicated to recycling. For those who dorm on campus, buying products that carry the “Energy Star” label to supply your room helps our school to minimize the amount of greenhouse gas emitted into our atmosphere. Some Energy Star products include computers, printers, desk lamps, clock radios and fans.

For commuters, maintaining car tire pressure uses less gas and increases the car’s efficiency. Generally, using cold water to wash your clothes and turning off your computer at night also reduces carbon emissions. Most of us have laptops and phones to charge, thus unplugging unused chargers can greatly reduce energy use as well.

It is true that greenhouse gas emissions from our country’s factories is the most contributing cause of climate change, but by the time we wait for our government to mitigate the issue, it might be too late. What we need is for all of us to act together and to do it now.

The planet has done nothing but be good to us. It provided us a home and intentional or not, we have done nothing but contributed to the destruction of it. The least we could do is commit to small acts to save it. You can’t make a difference on your own, but collectively we can fight climate change, save our planet, and bring on some happier weather.

 

Kelly Cheung is a second-year public health sciences major. She can be reached at  kfcheung@uci.edu.