It’s time for student action on climate change

Editorial published in the print edition of Elon University’s student-run newspaper, The Pendulum, on November 12, 2014.

Photo by The Pendulum staff

Photo by The Pendulum staff

A huge issue many students might not think about often is climate change. It’s an important issue that has been over- shadowed for decades. Now, the world needs to listen.

“Students have power at Elon,” said Jessica Bilecki, education and outreach coordinator at the Office of Sustainability at Elon University, about the effect students could have on climate change.

Elon offers multiple outlets and initiatives to cut down Elon’s effect on the environment.

To begin with, Elon completed a Sustainability Master Plan in spring 2007. In spring 2010, Elon completed a Climate Action Plan (CAP). The action plan outlines Elon’s plan to reduce emissions from the amount produced in 2008 by 2037, even if campus size increases. Inventory of emissions has been documented yearly since.

So far, emissions have increased overall because of construction, but emissions per square foot and per student emissions are down.

Yet these plans and inventory are irrelevant without student engagement in the issue and will only be successful
if the entire community actively participates.

“Every action we take has consequences,” Bilecki said. “When we choose to take a certain action we are also choosing the consequences that go along with it.”

There is a multitude of ways to become more involved, with varying degrees of commitment.

Students can incorporate sustainable living in almost anything they do, from dance to business to writing.

Simple changes can add up, such as turning off the light when leaving a room, unplugging electronics when not using them, cleaning the lint filter in the dryer, buying local foods, carpooling, walking and biking.

For those who want to become involved in making a larger change, Elon has a sustainable learning community for students to participate in.

There are also opportunities to be- come a sustainability research scholar, participate in the Phoenix Cup, or to become an Eco-rep, which is a student peer educator on sustainability on campus. And these are just a few examples.

According to a United Nations report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Human interference with the climate system is occurring.” We face changes that will have “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts on people and ecosystems.”

We must take action now because the window for much needed change is quickly closing. Everyone can make a difference.

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