We’ve been hearing about climate change for ages. I know. It’s no surprise that so many of us have become numb to the matter at this point, glancing at news articles with resignation because we already know what they’re going to say. But here’s the thing: We can’t let ourselves feel numb or resigned anymore, or acknowledge the problem while remaining idle. It’s our generation that has to deal with this issue in the future — more than any of the baby boomers in Congress — and we need to make it clear that we want something done about it.
You often see polls and statistics stating whether or not the general public “believes” in climate change, which doesn’t make any sense. You shouldn’t treat climate change the same way you would a simple opinion. Climate change is a fact. It’s been proven. So what’s there to do about it?
One action that I’ve personally taken is joining the Citizens’ Climate Lobby here at UTD. The goal is to take action that will, in the end, have a real impact on slowing climate change. What better way to do this than to meet with members of Congress, in hopes of introducing a fee to decrease carbon emissions? While individual choices — switching to fluorescent light bulbs or driving more fuel-efficient cars — are important, we want to focus on the bigger picture.
A carbon fee and dividend would encourage all businesses that harvest or utilize fossil fuels to switch to more efficient machinery, or to alternative sources and away from carbon-based fuel altogether. The money from the fees wouldn’t go to the government; instead, it would be returned to households in the form of a monthly dividend check. With this money, consumers would be more comfortable with the raised costs of gas and other petroleum-based products.
If introducing change on a national level sounds just a tad daunting, though, just know that there are other ways to help, starting at home-sweet-UTD. There’s a lot we can do in our immediate vicinity to make a local, but still important, impact on climate change, and these actions may be more viable for you as a student.
Currently, if you go online to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, you can look up UTD and see how we rank. We scored badly under Air & Climate, because we’re not doing anything to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions: 0.50/11.00. Under Energy, we received a 1.34/10.00, mostly thanks to our poor use of renewable energy sources. For water, we scored a 3.06/7.00, due to reports saying that we’re flat-out not pursuing wastewater management. And finally, UTD received a 0.50/1.00 for outdoor air quality from actual emission calculations from Campus TCEQ permits and other campus stationary sources.
It sounds pretty bad, but listen: These are issues that can easily be resolved if we, as students, come together in pursuit of change. UTD does, in fact, have a few renewable energy sources in place already, including a photovoltaic system in the form of a parking canopy that generates electricity, research and academic projects with solar and wind turbines, and a solar-thermal hot water heating system. Together, we could implement a plan for expansion. New guidelines could also be set into place to improve our impact in areas like water, waste management, and outdoor air quality, such as a policy to minimize air pollutant emissions from mobile sources.
So get off your asses. Don’t spend your time waiting for the solution to climate change to show up on your front doorstep, and don’t depend on Congress to fix it all themselves. Start here at UTD, or with a simple phone call to your representatives. Join the movement and help create lasting change.