On Tuesday night, I attended the C. Henry Smith Oratorical lecture and had the privilege of hearing four remarkable speeches from my peers.
During the lecture, Mandira Panta spoke on the topic of climate change. “We no longer have the luxury to plan without urgency,” she said. “A healthy planet and stable climate are not political issues.”
Climate change is the single most pressing issue of our time. We are already seeing consequences, through things such as erratic weather patterns, and the most dire effects become closer to reality every day. It seems like every day a new study is published, each one more harrowing than the last.
But this isn’t an editorial about the consequences of climate change. It’s one about taking responsibility to do something to mitigate the problem.
I am routinely dumbfounded by the lack of action humans are taking despite increasingly apocalyptic reports. While it can be hard to truly understand the ways in which things may play out, I find it difficult to comprehend why so many people are so hesitant to make drastic change. Didn’t we all learn growing up to leave a place better than we found it?
The first time I remember being called to action about the environment was in fifth grade. My science and social studies teacher, Mr. Jack, told my class that our generation was going to tackle some of the most complex and important problems of humankind—specifically, climate change.
Needless to say, 10-year-old me was terrified. But that statement has stuck with me. It is up to our generation to take charge and be the solution.
In her book “Becoming,” Michelle Obama writes that Barack once asked a group of community members in a church basement, “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”
Talking about the problem only will do so much. We have to start going beyond acknowledgement and start finding ways to make a difference to shape a world into something better. We don’t need to settle. When it comes to climate change, those changes need to happen immediately.
Yes, it’s major systemic change. Yes, it is complicated and multifaceted. But our world leaders have the power to mitigate the worst of climate change’s effects—but only if they start acting without precedent.
Politicians are the key players in creating change. It’s vital that we pay attention to their policies and pressure them to take drastic and immediate action to combat climate change and create a stable environment. We, the people, have a say in who makes policies.
On a smaller scale, even the tiniest actions can help tip the scale to a more promising future. I’m not saying I’m a picture of environmentalism– I’m definitely not– but I’m working on it. Recycle more, consume less, be more mindful of your energy usage. These all are minute but important things.
Above all, stay informed and maintain the pressure on those in charge.
Our generation is at the forefront of the climate crisis. We will see dramatic effects in our lifetime.
But we are not helpless. Think critically. How can you become part of the solution?