The Students Are for Climate Action in 2020

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ADRIANA BALSAMO-GALLINA/THE OBSERVER

It’s On Us: Jaded by the seeming ambivalence of the older generation, students feel the weight of the warming world on their shoulders.

By COSIMA BALLETTI-THOMAS, Staff Writer

“I’m terrified. The [climate] situation was urgent fifteen years ago when I was a kid. Now I’m terrified that I won’t be able to even recognize the world in a few decades.” – Alexis Becker, Nurse Practitioner Candidate 

As the exigency for climate action escalates, it is vital that we shift the collective attitude about the environment to counter the adverse impacts of inaction and ignorance propagated by our current federal administration. It may not be fair, but climate change is an injustice. Its devastating consequences are disproportionately felt around the world, largely concentrated in areas least responsible for the crisis. This imbalance, however, will soon resolve itself as the effects of climate change inch closer and closer to the Western world and other world powers most accountable for its rise and exacerbation. 

In a country so divided on environmental issues, I have wondered if the same trend exists within young people as the main recipients and future beasts of burden of the climate crisis. To explore this, I conducted interviews with students across America to learn about how they have been affected by the climate crisis and whether it has influenced their political views within the last few years and given the upcoming presidential election. 

Kylie Ford is a FCLC senior pursuing a double major in environmental studies and philosophy. 

When asked to what extent a candidate’s views on climate action will factor into her voting decision in the 2020 presidential election, Ford responded that swift climate action is necessary to avoid environmental catastrophe and her decision will most likely correlate to the candidate with the strongest climate initiative. 

Ford discussed how her “worldview and understanding of politics have been dramatically altered by the climate crisis,” furthering, “I have dedicated my career to trying to mitigate this crisis.” 

Another FCLC senior who wished not to be named explained that “while my family and I have historically supported the Republican party, climate change is not a partisan issue, though it is the most pressing issue and we are prepared to vote for whoever is most equipped and willing to implement deep-seated reform, and chances are, that will be a Democrat.”

I asked the student whether he feels as if he is betraying his party in this decision to which he responded that instead he feels as though his party has betrayed him. This student’s views speak to the larger issue of the partisanization of an issue that affects every living being regardless of political stance. 

Evidently, students from all different backgrounds are concerned about climate change, so why does our administration continue to treat global climate change as a partisan issue when it impacts every economy and corner of the world? The distribution of destruction has been vastly uneven, though every additional region that becomes inhospitable creates a higher exigency for added space and resources to facilitate forced and swift immigration from those places. Western countries may not have exhibited the worst of it so far, but our economies will indeed suffer the ripple effect as more and more parts of the world can no longer yield vital resources and support human life and activity. 

Without swift and effective climate action, we will continue to see temperatures and sea levels rise, among a myriad of other catastrophes. Thus, the most important thing that we as young people can do is to vote for candidates who will implement such action in the form of strong, comprehensive legislation. It is vital that we work to reduce our individual footprints; however, without an installment of climate consciousness into the very fabric of our government, we have no hope of mitigating this crisis. 

With that, make an effort to consider your preferred candidate’s specific climate plans going into this election because the climate crisis is a human crisis, and any other issue you may feel is important for our next administration to address will undoubtedly be exacerbated by climate change.