Students plan Earth Day events to fight climate change
Climate change is no longer an environmentalist issue in the eyes of Shane Patel, a junior in the School of Engineering. Scientific consensus has determined that it will impact everyone, and steps must be made to combat the damage of Earth.
On Earth Day, an occasion that is celebrated on April 22 every year, Patel is spearheading the Earth Day events at Rutgers this Tuesday in hopes of raising awareness of climate change.
The events include a Climate Justice Rally in front of the Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus, and a film festival organized by the Students for Environmental Awareness in the Douglass Campus Center, among others. All of the events are organized and supported by the Rutgers Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign.
The goal for the RFFDC is to encourage the community to change how they approach climate issues, he said.
Natalie Pabon, a School of Engineering senior, said the goal of these events is to educate the public about environmental issues that do not normally come up in everyday life.
“We want to inspire and motivate people to take steps to reduce their [negative] impact on the environment, which ultimately affects the progress of climate change,” she said.
A number of factors influence the amount of energy — and thus temperature — the Earth retains, he said.
Melting ice caps release methane gas, which contributes to the greenhouse effect, a factor in climate change, he said. Other harmful contributions are from large-scale deforestation and increasing fossil fuel use.
“It’s not all about carbon dioxide,” he said. “It all adds to an increase in temperature.”
Initially, it can affect people who cannot afford to adapt due to low economic status, Patel said. People who cannot afford to leave their homes, especially those who live near waterways, will be impacted the most strongly.
Eventually, everyone on Earth will see the results of climate change.
“We’re not just protecting the environment,” Patel said. “When there’s seven billion of us, there is no environment outside of us.”
The most strongly affected areas are expected to be coastal cities, he said. Well-used trade routes lead to the construction of the world’s most densely populated areas, which are invariably close to bodies of water.
Climate change is also expected to affect dwindling natural and agricultural resources, he said.
“It’s something anyone who’s serious about doing something professionally should be worried about,” he said.
Patel said climate change is complicated to understand given all of the science, and that is the reason people have not gotten too involved in it.
Rutgers as a community is relatively friendly to the environment, he said. The solar farm on Livingston Campus and the Dining Services’ policy on food recycling are both friendly to the environment.
The chief concern with Rutgers is ensuring it does not invest in fossil fuel companies, he said.
A goal of the RFFDC is to have the University administration pledge to not support the fossil fuel industry with the funds invested in various financial institutions, said Richard Trent, a School of Arts and Sciences senior
On a worldwide scale, the University’s impact is negligible, Patel said. The amount of carbon emission that can be reduced does not matter in the grand scheme.
“What does matter is doing those programs and having that change how people see climate change,” he said. “It’s more about showing people that you can make change in your community, and that’s really powerful.”