To most people, it isn’t news that our planet is growing warmer with time. There have been movements and attempts to make everyone more Earthfriendly, often alongside catchy slogans we’ve all heard: “meatless mondays,” “there is no planet B,” “reduce, reuse, recycle,” etc. What does all of this alliteration and word play actually mean? These phrases do a great job of summarizing a few aspects of what it looks like to care and advocate for this planet but only scratch the surface of what it actually means for the Earth when these phrases come to life. It is necessary to look at what is projected to occur if we continue mistreating the planet as we are now. If the world was to warm 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, 70 percent of coral reefs will be at risk of severe bleaching and degradation, according to worldwildlife. org. The increase of flooding under the same conditions increases by 100% percent. If the temperature rises 2 degrees Celsius instead of 1.5, the risk of flooding increases to 170 percent.
This warming occurs not as a coincidence or natural pattern, but as a result of an increase of carbon dioxide and/ or substances such as methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gasses are released in nature but not at the levels released as a result of human activity. Every time we use a vehicle, access energy from fossil fuels, or throw something into a landfill, we are contributing to the unhealthy levels of toxins in our air. These gases cause a sort of blanket to form over the planet, trapping in heat from the sun. Now that this depressing information has been addressed, it is important to recognize that this is not a hopeless cause— especially if all are willing to take action. Luckily, this can be done without too many major life changes required. We, specifically as college students, have many ways in which we can contribute positively to create a greener world. This first piece of advice is not incredibly original. People have been sharing the benefits of carpooling and walking places instead of driving since the ecofriendly revolution began.
As much as it is repeated, however, its importance still remains. Living in a cottage off campus in somewhat undesirable weather can make your car look incredibly tempting, but one thing to keep in mind is that what may seem like a harmless two-minute drive to class compounds over time. Imagine the cars of every cottage or apartment resident running for just five minutes a day; it adds up. Choosing to walk or bike is incredibly beneficial for our world, and for your own health. Another way in which to harness your collegiate earthsaving power is with laundry. Simply taking one second to press “cold” when putting a load into the washer can save insane amounts of energy. According to Sierra Club, 90 percent of the energy used during a load of laundry is used to heat the water. Using cold water in no way affects the quality of the wash. One household switching to cold water use will supposedly eliminate 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If that is just one household, imagine the tons of emissions that an entire college could eliminate by simply remembering to press a button.
This is only the beginning of what you can do to offer a healing hand. You can find an infinite number of ways to contribute to the preservation of our world that are only a Google search away. Don’t give up hope. Be aware and take action. Need a little extra motivation? Try watching the new documentary “Our Planet” on Netflix. Similar to “Planet Earth,” this show provides the viewer with mind blowing stories about wildlife all over the planet. It also shares how fragile these inhabited ecosystems are and how all are dependent on each other for survival. Stewardship is essential.