Sunday, May 19, 2024

Reflecting on climate change and its effects

 

By Nadia Paschal

Earth day was April 22, and that meant social media feeds were inundated with pictures of lakes, forests, animals, plants and everyone enjoying Mother Nature. 

With so many people sharing how much they love the Earth and want to save the planet, it was heartwarming at first. But my cynicism got the better of me as I started to wonder whether this was performative and what these people were doing to actually make the world a better place.

It’s disheartening that the onus has fallen on the average person when it’s massive corporations that produce the most pollution and cause the most harm to the planet. 

Since 1988, only 25 corporations have been responsible for 50% of global industrial emissions, as reported in an article by the University of Manchester.

Yes, we may contribute to this damage by buying the products they sell and using their services, but oftentimes we are left with no other choice as there are few alternatives. 

Even if we are contributing to a worsening environment, our actions are nowhere near as impactful as businesses that overuse and waste materials.

The climate crisis has gotten out of control, and some people still don’t believe it or think it’s not that bad. Microplastics, deforestation, extinction and rising sea levels are just a few of the effects climate change has had on the planet. 

Recently, scientists have also been discussing how ice in the Arctic is starting to melt because of the overall rising temperatures. This could potentially leave us having to face deadly diseases.

Taylor Tassio, a sophomore and environmental science student at SUNY Plattsburgh, keeps up to date on the news regarding the state of the planet through her classes and professors.

“Being in a lot of environmental science classes, like conservation-based, it’s interesting learning about it, but it’s also kind of doom and gloom learning about it,” Tassio said. 

On the other hand, sophomore Taylor Waddell, a human development and family relations major tries not to pay attention to the news too much as it makes her sad but finds she can’t really avoid it.

Living on a college campus has exposed me to just how careless some can be when it comes to the environment. After the weekend ends, empty cans litter sidewalks and spill out onto the lawns of private residences. 

People don’t stop and think about who is going to be cleaning up after them. Once the garbage is out of sight, it’s out of mind.

Both Tassio and Waddell try their best to keep up environmentally conscious habits such as recycling and using refillable water bottles. However they find that other students don’t seem to be the same way, attributing it to laziness.

There seems to be a general sense of being adverse to activities such as recycling among college students. They don’t think it would do anything, so why bother? 

It doesn’t help how difficult and inconvenient at times recycling has been made. Many off-campus houses and apartments don’t provide recycling bins, and students don’t want to go through the trouble of doing it themselves, so they’ll just throw everything into the garbage.

If they do decide to try and recycle, there are few options in the area, and most of them are outside of Plattsburgh. It can get confusing knowing where to bring recyclables and even more confusing knowing who takes what. 

Whenever I recycle, I bring my cans and such to Walmart, as it is the closest location to me. However, the machines don’t take a majority of the items, resulting in the rest having to be thrown away.

Hope is not lost however, as it’s not pointless to try and do your part. Conserving water, shopping sustainably, reducing waste and eating clean are just a few simple ways we can do our part to try and slow down the drastic effects that are occurring. 

“I think we should do everything we can. It’s never going to go back to the way that it was before, but we can still do something to prevent it from getting bad,” Waddell said.

The campus has also found ways to try and be more green — a few examples being the campus garden, putting more recycling bins in public buildings and CEES seminars. 

These seminars are put on by the Center for Earth and Environmental Science, and touch on a variety of topics like conservation, ecosystems and how climate change affects the local area.

“Our campus already does a lot, but for me, I’m not in the environmental science area. I don’t hear about a lot of things. So I would definitely say the school could probably promote things better,” Waddell said.

One of my favorite ways of being environmentally friendly is walking places. If I don’t have to drive, I won’t. Plattsburgh is small, the weather is getting nicer and it feels good to get some fresh air. I’ll take any opportunity I get to walk to my destination.

The world has been damaged enough, but it’s important to stay optimistic. 

Put more consideration into your actions. What may seem unimportant may have a more profound effect if done more often. 

If we all share the same mindset that this can be reversed or helped, we can actually make a difference.

 

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