Why College Students Should Care about Climate—and What We Can Do to Help

By Green For All | August 14, 2013
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Written by Makaila Frisina, Green For All Communications Intern

MakailaThe four words that I’ve heard grumble from my dad’s mouth and mine the most this summer break have been, “It is so hot!” It’s not just us; it really is getting warmer every year. Last year was the hottest year on record in the United States. Record-breaking temperatures aren’t the only climate change events that we’re witnessing. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and carbon pollution have contributed to a decline in public health and the health of our planet.

As a college student, I’m concerned about climate change and pollution because of the effects they have on peoples’ lives, the recent increase in intense weather conditions, and the future of our planet.

Since 1997, the United States has had its five hottest years. With temperatures skyrocketing – due to industrialization, deforestation, and pollution from fossil fuels – sea ice is melting and sea levels are rising. In fact, in the next 100 years, scientists predict there will be a 4 to 36 inch increase in sea level. That means that cities on the East Coast from Miami to Boston could end up like “Atlantis”—lost cities under the sea. Not only will coastal areas around the globe be destroyed, but the millions of people that live in these areas will be impacted, whether it is from illness, death, or destruction of their homes.

Every degree Celsius that the temperature rises could cause seven times as many colossal hurricanes like Hurricane Katrina in areas near the Atlantic. And over the years, global temperatures have already increased by one degree Celsius. Knowing that we have come one degree closer to another horrific encounter like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy motivates me as an individual and a college student to contribute to efforts to “go green” in order to help decrease the likelihood of these unfortunate events recurring.

There are many simple ways that we college students can help the environment. Here are just a few:

o Unplug chargers that you’re not using to reduce electricity waste
o Reuse bags and bottles
o Turn the lights off when you leave the room
o Use modes of transportation to your classes that don’t require oil
o Save paper by using E-textbooks (if the class has them available)
o Recycle glass, bottles, paper and plastic to save energy
o Take shorter showers to save water
o Use energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs
o Use cold water to wash your clothes (this saves 6.5 pounds of carbon emissions)
o Hang-dry your clothes to save energy
o Maintain your car tire pressure in order to use less gas and increase the car’s efficiency
o Carpool to save fuel and cut pollution
o When it’s hot outside, open your windows to ventilate the house instead of running the air conditioner
o Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth to save water
o Turn off your computer at night to conserve 83 percent of its carbon emissions

Going green can also solve some of our other problems, like poverty and unemployment. Clean energy and environmentally-friendly businesses create good green jobs.

Green jobs can provide those who are out of work with a way to support their families while protecting our air and water. Unemployment rates have surged throughout the years, leaving too many American families without a stable income and living in fear of how they are going to survive. Expanding green businesses will help more people find the stable income they need. Green jobs tend to pay 13 percent more but require less formal education, which means they create pathways into the middle class.

Also, with more green jobs available, the environment has more people and hands working to clean it up. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Green Goods and Services provided 3.1 million U.S. citizens with jobs—equal to about 2.4 percent of total U.S. employment in 2010.

Green jobs are definitely killing two birds with one stone; they provide people with paychecks and they protect our air and water for future generations. More green jobs and more people working in green industries influences others to take steps to protect the planet. People working in green jobs are a great example to our community and society.

Earth is our home. And charity begins at home. We should take care of it; especially since in some way or another we’ve all contributed to destroying it. I remember years ago, I used to think, “the Earth is already dying; there’s no point in trying to ‘go green’ now.”

I was wrong. There is a point. We can still make a difference and fight global warming. We can still protect our families and friends from breathing dirty air or drinking dirty water. We can still turn things around. By taking the time to recycle or unplug my phone charger when I’m not using it, I can help slow the worst effects of climate change. We can all help by caring about these issues and doing something about them; each of us has a role to play. Let’s take care of our home.

 

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