By Cassidy Rhodes-Aniska ‘22
The year 2020 was definitely one to remember (although it was perhaps one we would rather forget). As a country, we endured the vicissitudes of the pandemic, wrestled with polarizing social issues, and made it through a presidential election. I have been both interested and involved in government for quite a while now, and have also been passionate about the wellbeing of the environment and its greatest threat, climate change. By virtue of the Climate Science and Sustainability Concentration, I am able to meet at the crossroads of these two topics and research the challenging politics of climate change as well as advancing toward a climate-responsible government.
Some of the effects of the near 100 regulations on air, water, and atmospheric pollution that were terminated under the current administration can be reversed with time, however, greenhouse gas emissions will remain a pressing issue in the environment for decades to come. According to NASA, “Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades, if not centuries.” The reason for this is because it will take a long period of time for the environment to finally respond to our actions. In other words, there is a delay in time between what we do for the environment and when we experience those results.
On the other hand, in order to completely eliminate greenhouse gases, we risk the chance of sacrificing modern society as we know it. As I type this from my laptop, powered by a lithium-ion battery, I can’t help but recognize that it may be contradictory to not admit that our society heavily depends on technology that contributes to greenhouse gases such as this. The approach I would propose is finding the dichotomy between preserving both our modern society and the environment for as long as we can.
Through the years, the issue has strayed further away from genuine care about the wellbeing of the environment and closer to becoming a political tool utilized to push agendas and promote oneself. Not only has climate change wreaked havoc on the Earth’s physical planet, but also on society, politics, and the economy. Rather than using the environment as a tool to help the government, people should be using the government as a tool to help the environment.
These ideas have sparked my interest in the reparation of the environment through political action. During my time in the Climate Science and Sustainability Concentration, I aim to analyze current policy regarding which ones promote sustainable development, identify areas that use more incentive to be more sustainable, and develop a local proposal to target environmental issues happening in our own community, such as flooding, pollution, or failure to recycle. While doing so, I am open to reaching a compromise with an opposing stance, because taking some form of action is better than an everlasting stalemate.
There is little to no give on each end of the political spectrum, and the failure to reach an understanding is resulting in delayed action for this urgent issue. In order to enjoy our planet for generations to come, compromises need to be made. We may not immediately be reaching our final goal, but it is a step in the right direction towards saving the environment.
Though many are rejoicing to leave 2020 and its involved politics in the dust, we must not leave behind the need for unity, for the middle ground is better than having no ground at all.