This is a guest piece written by our summer 2017 intern, Kiley Kinnard. Kiley is currently enrolled at the College of Wooster, where she studies political science and women’s, gender and sexuality studies.
Last Thursday, President Trump announced that he will pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. In 2015, 195 countries agreed to reduce the impact of climate change by limiting their greenhouse gas emissions. Trump’s decision was reportedly influenced by the EPA’s climate change denier-in-chief, Scott Pruitt. It will add almost 3 billion tons of extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year and dramatically increase the global temperature. Although the withdrawal will not be official until 2020, the U.S. is the world’s largest economy and second largest producer of greenhouse gases and will join Nicaragua, Syria, and Russia as the only countries in the world not to support the agreement.
Over the last four months, the Trump administration has consistently denied and downplayed the effects of climate change while ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity has caused harm to the environment. Sea level rise, global temperature rise, increase in ocean temperature and acidity, shrinking ice sheets and glaciers, habitat loss, and declining snow cover are all consequences of climate change. 2016 saw some of the hottest months ever recorded. Despite all this evidence, the United States is rejecting a leadership role in ensuring the safety of our planet and ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change. To make matters worse, however, Trump’s decision will disproportionately hurt women—particularly women of color, those in developing countries and with lower incomes, whose limited rights, restricted mobility, and lack of voice in shaping policy decisions leave them to bear the brunt of climate change. From Lafitte, Louisiana to the camps at Standing Rock, North Dakota, environmental degradation and racism has harmed communities of color, low income communities and developing nations for years-this is only set to get worse following the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Accord.
Here at Feminist Campus, we are frustrated by such blatant denial of science and disregard for our planet and fellow human beings. Instead of listening to the seven out of ten Americans who support staying in the Paris agreement, the federal government has left environmental leadership to state and local governments; thankfully, nearly 70 mayors and three governors have stepped up to the plate. On an even smaller level, though, there are also things YOU can do to help save the planet on your campus:
- Take a few minutes to call your representatives at (202) 224-3121. Let them know how important the environment is to you and encourage them to support reducing greenhouse gas emissions (doing so will make communities healthier and create jobs!) Be sure to call your city officials, too!
- Partner with an environmental justice club on your campus to host programming and events. Some things you can do: dorm sustainability competitions, sustainable food fairs, documentary screenings, climate-focused volunteering like landscaping or picking up trash, and clothing exchanges and donations!
- Do small things at home: turn lights and fans off when you leave a room, take shorter showers, let your hair air dry if you can, and reduce, reuse, and recycle! Skip plastic silverware and water bottles for reusable ones. Composting has also become more popular in recent years, and this guide can help you get started.
- Use social media to raise awareness of climate change and environmental issues. This is a more passive technique but is also a quick and easy way to get your views out there. Engage with hashtags such as #ActOnClimate and #ParisAgreement, participate in webinars and Twitter chats, or host your own!
- Ride your bike or use public transportation the next time you go out for coffee (and take a reusable mug with you—some stores will give you a discount!)
- Go to a town hall or protest and be vocal! Take your friends and ask questions about politicians’ climate change policies. Websites like Resistance Near Me can help you find town halls and local climate-focused events.
- Vote for elected officials who support the Paris agreement and other pro-environment policies. Make climate issues an important part of your politics. Environmental Voter is a great place to start!
- Talk with others. Although this seems obvious, the majority of Americans—and especially younger Americans—accept and understand the gravity of climate change. Your friends probably agree with you and might be interested in fighting back, too.
Saving the planet will be no easy feat-but with all of us involved in the fight for a healthy planet, we can ensure that Mother Nature gets the love she deserves. Tell us how you’ve worked to save the planet in the comments below!