Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fight Climate Change with a Thought

Article by Tan Ha, Climate Action CUIP

I struggle with the idea of greenhouse gas emissions. It is not like I do not understand how much damage it causes to the environment. As the UCSC Sustainability Office’s Climate Action Intern, I can tell you about state-wide reduction goals and exactly how many metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) emissions our campus needs to reduce. However, what does it really mean when I tell you that we are trying to reduce 27,000 MTCO2e by year 2020?

I reflect on this as I calculate emission factors for the next Climate Action Plan. I realize that fighting against the trends of global warming will take more than measuring GHG inventories or drafting plans for administers and planners alike. But official planning documents do not inspire the larger demographic such as students and community members to live a carbon neutral lifestyle.

Even with prior knowledge of the lofty goal of reducing 27,000 MTCO2e, I need to remind myself that it is equivalent to stopping 3 million gallons of gasoline from burning annually after 2020. I imagine the scorching gasoline near where I live. I smell the viscous fumes robbing the fresh air released from the vibrant Santa Cruz trees. Then I remember that I am privileged to not see this in front of me. I recognize that this “fire” caused by the UCSC community is unbounded and threatens the global environment. However, developing countries are in the heat of the fire. They are at greater risk as they have fewer resources to protect themselves from these increased “natural disasters.” Every person, institution, region, nation, and global entity is a stakeholder of the problems and solutions associated with climate change. I want to take this opportunity not to ramble about how bad it is but invite my readers to look into this problem as an opportunity. It is our chance as young, curious individuals to ask how my lifestyle can affect the world. I like to entertain the idea that although the problem may be beyond one person’s work, it should be within the means of our collective effort. So let us take baby steps in our life. Before we know it, we may easily put out a fire of 3 million gallons of gasoline. It is our ambition, concerns, and belief systems that drive us to consciously shape the world so that future generations can know how passionately we fought for life on earth. What does it mean to turn off the lights, ride your bike, or shop locally? I don’t fully understand but I challenge you to find this answer with me.

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