A new plan for climate change is necessary

Alexandra Stettner

Alexandra Stettner
Alexandra Stettner

It’s almost been a decade since the famous documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” was released, and while the idea of global warming had been around for decades, people became hyper-aware of their actions. Going “green” became a huge movement.

To jog your memory, this was the time people switched out their light bulbs, tried carpooling or walking as a commute and Priuses rolled on to the scene.

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As people have gotten into a swing with their environmentally-friendly lifestyle, there seems to be a lack of knowing what to do now. Because no one knows what to do next, any new study on the increase in global temperatures or rising ocean levels goes practically unheard.

In a video that surfaced around Earth Day, the speaker makes several great points as to why we should take care of the Earth in a powerful way, but never tells the audience how. It’s a difficult question to answer of course, but with a problem as big as climate change and a daunting concept to digest like human’s sustainable future, there’s only so much you can ask of the general public to do when there is so much out of their hands. Without a message of what to do, it’s not surprising messages like these continue to go in one ear and out the other.

There’s some truth to Gandhi’s famous “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as evidenced by grassroots social movements. But the majority of damage being done to the environment is through industry and manufacturing, especially in the developing world.

It’s hard to believe that we can expect to influence these large companies and governments to make any significant change. After all, at the end of the day, the goal of a business is to turn a profit and in the most economically efficient way they can, rather than an environmentally-sustainable way.

While this may all sound severely cynical, there is some hope. We’re not too late when it comes to climate change. The ozone layer is showing improvement after the Montreal Protocol where harmful ozone hole-chlorofluorocarbons were banned, and it’s been less than 20 years. In science time, that’s barely anything.

Currently, the UN has its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC is a scientific body that simply reviews information and studies done by other organizations and presents their assessments of them to the rest of the UN. This panel has the capability to have great influence, but whether governments will get on the same page as each other and agree to make changes is unknown.

In the latest IPCC assessment report, they show that moving to a low carbon economy would be effective, but it’s in the hands of governments to take action. Some regulation has already taken place, but it is too soon to tell if the extent that has been done has been enough. To be precautionary, it would be best to continue regulation and work together with other governments to create an international plan of action. At this point, it seems like this is our best shot. As more and more drastic effects are starting to take place with radical weather patterns and changing ecosystems, the sooner we act the better.

Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @alexstetts.