Why College Students Should Care about Climate Change

On Black Friday 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a devastating report called the National Climate Assessment on the resounding potential economic impacts of future climate change. One could assume that the monetary aspects behind this report would shake this economically-motivated administration, but alas, once again the Trumpian sphere refused to acknowledge climate change and impacts as a relevant reality. However, this white house’s disinterest in protecting the environment actually is not too far off from the majority of Americans. Although 63% of Americans report wanting the government to take more action against climate change, only 35% reported routinely talking about climate change as an issue with friends and family. Furthermore, 77% of us millennials said that we should try to stop or slow climate change, but only 33% recycling everyday.

 

So why isn’t America doing more to address climate change and more importantly, why should we, the next American generation care?

 

First of all, one thing we all certainly care about as we prepare to enter the workforce is the availability of jobs.  However, rising temperatures are having devastating impacts of nearly every industry from tourism, to agriculture to even business. Warmer temperatures make it harder and more expensive to ship product or work in a field. Therefore, this lost efficiency will continue to cost companies money and force them to make cuts where they can.

 

 

Furthermore, even without the worry of landing a well-paying job, we all should be worried about the impact of climate change on our health and safety. Around the world, more people are suffering from potentially fatal heat stroke than ever before. Especially with the elderly, scientist estimate that there could be 50 to 100 excess deaths due to heat in American within the next 50 years. Beyond the direct impact of rising temperatures, a warmer planet makes it easier to spread previously eradicated diseases such as zika and malaria. For instance, the conditions for malaria-carrying mosquito have expanded to higher altitudes in sub-saharan Africa just as the environment for Zika-carrying mosquitos has expanded closer to Southern Florida.

 

Finally, we all heard of the devastating natural disasters happening with increasing frequency and intensity around the world. Weather events are becoming more polarized with either extreme rain or extreme heat causing equally catastrophic flooding and droughts. From endangering human life and property through hurricanes or fires to reducing the crop yield and risking starvation, the effects of extreme weather will be increasingly felt by people in midwestern and northern communities.

 

So how can us young adults address these increasing environmental concerns?

First off, we have to make every effort to reduce our carbon footprint. From making the extra effort to recycle plastic bags at grocery stores to choosing to carpool, walk, and bike more places. We can all overcome the slight inconvenience of seeking out a recycling can on campus and bringing reusable bags to grocery stores. As we prepare to engage in the full scheme of adulthood, we can start taking large steps such as choosing to eat less animal products and making smart political decisions concerning the current climate environment. As college students, we have the greatest potential as the next generation to end climate change for good. With a little extra effort from us all, protecting the environment can become the new norm in society.