Organizations abroad and at home act to save environment

“The environmental crisis is extremely severe, and the effects could be ominous, threatening decent human survival, in the not very distant future,” said Noam Chomsky, an organizer of the call-to-action movement, in an email interview with The Guilfordian.

On Nov. 30, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference will commence in Paris. Delegates of attending countries will try to achieve a universal agreement on climate change.

In response, different groups are attempting to create awareness of the event.

“(We are sending the) Guilford delegation to the People’s Climate March in D.C.,” said junior and sustainability coalition cofounder Eva Cosgrove. “I think education is really important, especially for Guilford students.”

The climate change conference has been held every year since 1995. The last major agreement was the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which limited greenhouse emissions.

Last year, the largest climate march in history was conducted in New York City, coninciding with the conference. Despite this, no significant conclusion was reached at the meeting.

“It blows my mind that progress has not been made up to now, so it’s difficult for me to imagine what will finally be the impetus toward real change in policy” said sustainability coordinator Bronwyn Tucker, in an email interview.

Because of the inaction of many governments, environmentally conscious individuals have taken it upon themselves to help change the policy. In the upcoming weeks, demonstrations like the People’s Climate March will take place in major centers around the world.

“There’s a big march in Paris, but they have other ones in New York and elsewhere,” said junior and Sustainability Coalition treasurer Anna Lichtiger. “I think the main purpose of (the marches) is to create awareness of how much people care about sustainability.”

Prominent individuals like Desmond Tutu, Vivienne Westwood, Naomi Klein and Chomsky are also voicing their opinions on the issue. They hope that mass attention to the conference will influence national leaders.

“Unless there is far greater attention to the conference, and very significant public pressures, it is hard to expect much (from the conference),” said Chomsky. 

Guilford’s major focus surrounding climate change is the upcoming march in Washington, D.C., scheduled for Nov. 29. Students can get involved in the event by contacting Eva Cosgrove via email.

“Lobbying and helping Guilford students understand the process of getting involved in politics (are important goals) for us in D.C.,” said Cosgrove. “I think (we should be) supportive and be involved as a community outside of our Guilford bubble.”

The issue of climate change is not all about the conference. Guilford students are motivated to do many other things to reduce their carbon footprint.

“All that we do helps with the issue of global climate change in general,” said Tucker. “For example, encouraging students to conserve energy, ride bikes or walk rather than drive, recycle, etc. … can be linked to a reduction of fossil fuel use, and thus less carbon emissions.”

To reduce industrial emissions, however, policy changes concerning the carbon output need to be made. And with enough support, those changes can come from this conference.

Thus the meeting may hold the key to reducing climate change.

“It’s easy for us to underestimate how important climate change issues are because (they are) not as pressing as economic or social issues,” said Lichtiger. “But climate change is on a different level because we can’t live without a healthy planet.”