Creating A Commotion About Climate: Connor McClay

Happy Earth Day everyone! This is such an important day to recognize the importance of our home and understand what our impact is on where we live. I've written several articles regarding the state of the world, such as the issues we have with recycling, perspectives from a Marine Bio professor, and what we need to do to fix the mess we've made. But I've found that it's always interesting to talk to students who are part of the environmental science major about the state of the environment because you won't find a more passionate group of students. They know first hand what the consequences of our actions will be and they have different ideas as to how we can fix the point that we're at now on this earth. One of these passionate students is Connor McClay, who I've had the privilege of getting to know more this school year. A sophomore majoring in environmental science, Connor knows that we need to make changes to our lifestyles to make the world a better place to live in.  Her Campus at Cal Lutheran: Why did you decide to be an environmental science major?

Connor McClay: Coming into CLU I originally wanted to become an engineer but there were no programs and I love science and I love the outdoors, so environmental science seemed like the perfect fit.

HCCLU: What are some of the classes you've taken at Cal Lutheran for your major?

CM: Intro to Ecology & Population, Intro to Environmental Science, Water Resources, and Environmental Law and Policy.

HCCLU: What have you learned from these classes?

CM: The intro classes really solidified my stance on what major I wanted to pursue. It is a pressing problem in the world and with the way we're heading, it's only going to become a growing problem for our generation.

In my Water Resources Lab, I learned how to accurately take water quality measurements, and one of the bodies of water we tested was Kingsmen Creek. And just to let you know you should definitely not be swimming or drinking that water!

I have learned the most from my Environmental Law and Policy class taught by Dr. Neve. We have gone over the US’s previous policy implementations that were started to help mitigate our pollution of the Earth. We have made great strides as a country, but we are falling short along with the majority of the industrialized world. There are great ideas and plans out there that are working on eliminating our pollution for the Earth with renewable and green energy, but we need the public and policymakers to get behind these plans.

                                                                Connor testing the water of Kingsmen Creek

HCCLU: With Earth Day coming up, there's normally a lot of advocacy for environmental policies and movements. But what are some things you think everyone can do every day, or more often than just on Earth Day, to help the Earth?

CM: Earth Day is an amazing reminder to care about our environment. We can get so caught up in our day to day lives and forget that we share this campus with so many other people, plants, and animals. Simple things that you can do every day is to recycle and pick up trash. So often we walk over trash and think it's not ours, it’s not our problem. Picking up trash can help save animals' lives and it makes our campus a much prettier place to walk around in. There are so many opportunities to recycle and many people don't understand or don’t take that one second to think about recycling.

HCCLU: What's one of the saddest or scariest things you've learned about the environment or the consequences of our impact on the environment?

CM: There are so many terrible things that are happening daily as a result of our pollution on this Earth. Animals are becoming endangered and extinct at a much faster rate than ever before because of human overcrowding and pollution. Climate change is a real problem for us as humans as well. Sea level rise will be a direct impact of climate change and it will affect our California coastline as well as islands around the world creating Climate refugees.

HCCLU: Is there something you find particularly frustrating about people's perspectives on climate change, like people who don't believe it's that serious or who don't believe it's happening at all?

CM: It is very frustrating speaking to or listening to people who do not believe in climate change. There are so many real, science, fact based research that clearly shows climate change is happening now and humans are to blame. Just as frustrating are people who know it is happening and chose to do nothing about it, especially those in a position with political power. We need to start to change now and not wait until catastrophes happen.

HCCLU: How do you try to help with saving the Earth?

CM: Some things I do to try and help have been some of the things I mention. Picking up trash out on our campus or in national parks. Think about what I am about to throw away is recyclable or not. Also trying to use silverware I have in my room instead of using plastic forks, spoons, knives, etc. Recently in our Environmental Policy class, we all separately called our Representatives and asked them to support the Green New Deal and that we as a younger generation want things to change so we can grow up in a world that isn't polluted and extinct of life. I plan on working for Joshua Tree National Park this summer and learning more ways to protect our National Parks and more importantly our Earth as a whole.  

HCCLU: If there's one thing you could tell everyone in order to help the Earth, and they would have to do it, what would it be?

CM: That’s a very tough question to answer. I would tell everyone to sit down and look at all the things you are doing that are causing pollution; driving gas car, using one use plastics, taking long showers, and so many other things we do day to day that can be reduced or eliminated. Is it possible for you to switch to renewable energy? Ride your bike to school, work? If we as individuals all collectively found ways to eliminate our carbon footprint the world would be a much better place. I don't think there's one answer about what everyone can do to help our planet, but there are lots of answer in each one of our separate lives.   

All Photos Courtesy of the Author