Photo: Bored Panda

The Bubble’s Apathetic Climate Needs to Change

Pema I’Anson advises us on the small steps we can take to save the Earth.

It’s cool to rage about Trump nowadays. It’s cool to rage about workloads, and how hard it is to find housing in St Andrews, and people talking on the quiet floors in the library. But you know what’s not cool to rage about? Climate change. You know what’s also not cool (literally)? The year 2015 was the warmest on record, leading to the loss of 4.3 million square km of ice. Melting ice leads to caches of methane being released, a greenhouse gas. So, basically, this is going to be 600 words of rage directed at people who don’t rage about climate change.

For a University tbat prides itself on the leaps and bounds it has made towards carbon neutrality, I am distinctly disappointed in the behaviour of students here. For example, how many of you actually knew we had a Green Week recently? While the initiative was admirable, and I’m sure that many people worked very hard in curating it, I saw no change in the way students understood or behaved towards the environment, either during or afterwards. Even a simple bulletin with some quick facts, sent out via email or on posters, would have made some small impact. As it was, various events labelled themselves ‘Green’, and perhaps a few had some environmental theme, but few – if any –  sorely-needed discussions about how we can change our everyday lives were sparked.

Photo: Redorbit
Photo: Redorbit

A lack of awareness and apathy seem to be the biggest enemies here. On the internet, you can find hundreds of easy, small things to do that will help. My favourites include bringing your own (travel) mug to the coffee shop, recycling instead of tossing into the landfill bin, and turning out lights, especially fairy lights. But then only those who are interested in the first place are going to bother – so we move onto apathy.

To get at this issue in the past, I’ve enjoyed throwing some shocking statistics around. Famously, a (somewhat militant) environmental group that I was not involved with at my previous school created a papier-mâché polar bear and positioned it in the central courtyard, while shouting through megaphones against a backdrop of stat-laden bedsheets hung on the walls. I’m not proposing anything quite as aggressive, but something that would have maximum viewership and maximum impact would be ideal. Hit me at [email protected] with your ideas.

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

It’s the little things: the amount of times I’ve walked into an empty room in which all the lights are on, the amount of times I’ve seen somebody landfill something that could be recycled, the sheer lack of awareness amongst the student body of which companies have unsustainable practices and ingredients…

I could go on for hours. Is there a reason why people almost actively contribute to climate change? Is it because they think it’s ‘too late to do anything about it’? Is it because they are tired of angry environmentalists shouting at them? Is it because they can’t be bothered? Is it because they don’t believe in it? I’d love to address each of these questions individually, but I’ve got a word limit. Google it.

Friends: You don’t have to change your entire life. Eating vegetarian every now and again, getting into the habit of turning off lights, walking an extra few steps to the recycling bins. It’s the little things that have contributed to the climate change phenomenon, and it’s the little things that will help – not turn back the tide, they’re right in that one, but slow it down, perhaps. We’ve only got one earth. Let’s try to keep it in good conditions.

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