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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

We aren’t doing enough for climate change

Amanda Riha

People typically don’t feel a connection to an issue until it starts to affect them personally. When it comes to climate change, this year alone has been enough to affect countless individuals, including Quinnipiac University students.

When discussing a topic that’s been an issue since the 19th century, it’s helpful to first examine the whole picture.

The United Nations defines climate change as long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns. This year, we saw several examples of how extreme the issue is becoming.

From the hottest summer on record, to coral bleaching in Florida, to Canadian wildfires that blanketed North America in smoggy skies and rising sea levels in Europe that threatened to put cities underwater, 2023 has definitely been a year of change, and not the good kind.

There’s a new headline practically every week listing another implication of climate change. I don’t think Quinnipiac students ever expected to experience it firsthand.

The first week of September is a week no Quinnipiac student will soon forget. It started with a four-day-long heat wave, not a fun experience considering most dorms lack air conditioning. As if the extreme heat wasn’t enough, the week ended with a thunderstorm that caused a power outage on York Hill Campus, even  trapping a student in an elevator.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen crazy weather on campus, as there has been persistent flooding on the Mount Carmel Campus over the past few years, and what’s to come will only get worse.

You may be thinking, “I’m just a college student, how can I possibly help with such a massive issue?” And while we can’t solve climate change problems overnight, there are several initiatives college students can take to start being more climate-conscious.

In an article for The Years Project, Anna Conkling lists the 10 easiest ways for college students to live more sustainably. Some notable examples are recycling, buying recycled products, cutting down on plastic usage and unplugging electronics once you’ve finished using them — one of the most common tasks that helps cut down carbon emissions.

Speaking of electricity, it’s tied with agriculture for the highest contributing sectors of carbon emissions at 22%, second only to industry at 24%. Following this is transport, other energy usage and construction, based on data from 2019 per the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Unplugging electronics while you’re not using them can help the slightest bit in cutting down. Imagine the impact if all of Quinnipiac had this mentality, or even universities around the nation. It starts small, but with enough people involved we can really make a difference.

There’s also several ways for students on campus to get involved to fight climate change, by joining political organizations or clubs like the Students for Environmental Action. Signing petitions and exercising your right to vote are other easy ways you can make a difference.

I’m well aware that while I could make a compelling argument on how college students can stop contributing to climate change, there is a much bigger enemy: the wealthy.

Recent data from the Stockholm Environment Institute shows that the wealthiest 1% of humanity is responsible for twice as many emissions as the poorest 50%. The data also shows that by 2030 the uppermost class of individuals will have carbon footprints 30 times greater than the level compatible with goals set during the 2015 Paris Agreement, per Oxfam International.

This means that even if everyone in the middle and lower class started unplugging their toasters and laptop chargers after using them, we still probably wouldn’t dent the issue. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it.

There could be negative impacts if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at the current rate. It’s expected that we’ll see a warmer atmosphere, warmer and more acidic oceans, higher sea levels and larger changes in precipitation patterns, per the City of Chicago’s Climate Change site.

I understand that even after reading this, some individuals still won’t care.

The reality is that everything is connected, and it’s more than heatwaves, flooding and power loss. Climate Change destroys forest ecosystems, where we source lumber that goes into countless products we use everyday. It affects the oceans, that not only aid in our weather but are a huge part of our environment and provide us with food. It affects agriculture and other ecosystems that are essential parts of our economy and our everyday lives.

As climate change worsens, habitats and ecosystems will be beyond evolution and will start to die. Once products become scarce, prices go up and the economy will see exacerbated inflation. Our climate quite literally affects everything.

How long are we willing to turn a blind eye? How much more flooding, torrential storms, hurricanes and extreme temperatures can we take?

When talking about climate change, I always hear the phrase, “not my problem.” There’s a common misconception that the issues we continue to contribute to will be left to the next generation to clean up (our children’s generation, nonetheless).

However, the impacts of climate change are only escalating, and if we don’t start making changes, we could feel those effects more than we ever anticipated.

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About the Contributors
A.J. Newth
A.J. Newth, Opinion Editor
Amanda Riha
Amanda Riha, Design Editor

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