By Gabrielle Healy
Let me cut right to the chase: climate change is real. According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human activity has spurred rising temperatures worldwide. The results could be catastrophic; in the midwest, we could see “extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding” in the coming decades, according to the same source. However, there is hope and help available, and one effort is centered here on campus.
The Collegian article “Despite cost, students push for carbon neutrality at Kenyon” (Jan. 29, 2015) concerned an independent study by three students, Lauren Johnstone ’15, Matthew Meyers ’17 and Sarah Oleisky ’16. The study help the College achieve the challenge of carbon neutrality (in other words, the College would reach a point where it emits zero net greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane).
Climate change is an issue most pertinent to youth. As a result of this, it is appropriate that students are leading the charge to create a campus that will be sustainable in the future. A particularly encouraging facet of the independent study project is that the idea was a result of a failed campaign for the College’s divestment from fossil fuels.
Trying again, the students pursued the route of carbon neutrality, demonstrating how important the issue is. The students acknowledge the project could be costly, but there are many opportunities for improvement on environmental issues on campus. Even if some parts of the plan cannot be adopted, issues of sustainability are essential for the College’s future expansion plans. I refer in particular to the proposed construction of various buildings as part of the revised master plan.
While the carbon neutrality project continues developing, there are plenty of individual steps to be taken in the meantime by students, faculty and community members. The potential future is alarming, no doubt about it. However, now is not the time to curl up in fear and procrastinate on making an individual change. Anecdotally, I’m committing to stop purchasing microwavable cups of macaroni and cheese, that staple of the collegiate diet. They might be cheap and easy to make, but they create a huge amount of waste, most of which is not recyclable. If everyone agrees to take small actions, like washing clothes in cold water to save electricity, they will add up. It’s not glorious, but it is what’s needed. Colleges and universities are known for their progressiveness, and action on climate change is another area where Kenyon has a chance to lead.
I know some readers might be sick of hearing about rising sea levels and viewing frightening media clips of storms. One of the only ways to stop the media blitz of fear about this issue is to actually do the things we say should be done. Kenyon is famous for the natural beauty surrounding us on the Hill, but we have to work to protect it.
Gabrielle Healy ’18 is undeclared from Fairhaven, Mass. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.