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Climate Change is About You and Me

My engagement in environmental matters and issues has been recent centerpiece to my life. Yes, I watched Al Gore’s “ An Inconvenient Truth”, my family raised me to be a devout recycler, changed my light bulbs, carpooled when I could etc. All the facts I was taught throughout my primary and secondary education lead me to believe that overpopulation and consumer habits is why our planet is falling apart, but it’s bigger than that. In all honesty, I didn’t focus on climate change as a serious issue because I thought it would be the next generation’s problem. The rising sea levels, droughts, natural disasters, food and water scarcity, and the additional scary aspects of climate change were things I didn’t want to think about. It didn’t seem real. The science, numbers, statistics, and projections were real, but  I didn’t know how to frame that information in relation my own life. Climate change is beyond saving the polar bears and the rain forest, climate change is about you and me.

 

First, it’s important to understand that the Earth is going to continue and stick around for quite sometime, but the environmental movement is about saving our species. In a cruel, almost humorous twist, the greatest threat to ourselves is ourselves. Our world is changing at an unprecedented pace. There’s a choice one has to participate and engage within your community to fight against these causes. I’d be easier to ignore the news and just sit and wait for the world to crumble. It’s simpler, less messy, and far less emotional of a process. I understand it, I wish I didn’t know the things I know sometimes. But it’s important to wake up and pop the precious, protected bubble we have built around ourselves. We need to engage in a discussion of what do we value as humans? How can I contribute to helping my friends, family, neighbors, even strangers? What green choices can I start enabling in my daily routine? Can I participate in meatless Monday if I can’t commit to becoming a vegetarian or vegan? There are hundreds of questions we need to start asking of ourselves and others.

But climate change won’t be solved by just changing light bulbs and signing an online petition. No, our planet, well, our species will be saved through community and collaboration. Art, dance, music, civil disobedience, innovation, and connecting with ourselves and those in our communities are just some of the opportunities and tools that will come with climate change. It’s not about shaming others for the ways they can’t participate. It’s about advocates of gender, racial, economic, political, and other equality based causes to come together and use climate change as a base of achieving justice and awareness. Distress of our environment, turns to distress upon all of our systems. When reading about the latest natural disaster, oil spill, or fracking incident, acknowledge and understand the disparity, but it is equally important to recognize the opportunity and growth that can come from these battles. In the end, utilizing one’s strengths, passion, love, and true democracy is what will save this place.

To learn more about climate change and how you can get involved here’s some resources to get started:

 

350- Climate focused campaigns, projects, and action:

http://350.org

 

Divestment:

http://gofossilfree.org

 

University of Oregon’s Climate Justice League:

http://climatejusticeleague.weebly.com

Films:

Gaslands

Cowspiracy

Mission Blue

Chasing Ice

Disruption

 
Elissa is a sophomore studying Arts Management at the University of Oregon. In addition to being senior editor of Her Campus Oregon, she is recruitment coordinator and campaign co-director for Climate Justice League, a member of Music Industry Collective, and works as a barista. When she's not hiking or watching documentaries, she's creating collages and dope Spotify playlists. In the future she hopes to travel the world and work for a major music festival. 
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