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    • Kate Collier ’21 restores coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

Students React to Climate Change Initiatives

Julia Kosinski ’21
On March 15, thousands of students around the world skipped school to participate in rallies demanding action from their governments to mitigate climate change.
Though Hopkins students were on spring break during the strikes and unable to attend the rallies, many students are still interested in being proactive in the battle against climate change. As Isabel Melchinger ’21 described, “it’s everyone’s responsibility to help our earth because it’s going to be our generation’s problem. To globally impact climate change in a positive way would require a lot of collaboration and big changes to our lifestyles quickly because we are running out of time.”

Like youth across the globe, Hopkins students are worried about climate change. Although Sophie Sonnenfeld ’21 feels that “climate change has only had minor effects on [her] life so far”, she is “very worried about the impact of climate change, as it is one of the largest issues our generation is currently facing, and will face in the future.” Jasmine Shah ’21 shared a similar outlook: “I am especially concerned that 2030 is the deadline where we absolutely need to cut global carbon emissions by 45% because if we don’t, there will be nothing we can do to slow down climate change. That’s in ten years.” Jack Kealey ’21 is particularly “worried because of the pure blatancy with which people reject that the climate crisis is a current issue.” Kate Collier ’21 became interested in environmental issues through frst hand experience: “I have participated in hands on coral restoration, and I have seen how the reefs have been destroyed by the warming water right before my eyes. It is shocking how fast it’s happening.” Owen Lamothe ’22 touched on a few ways in which he already feels the effects of climate change in “poor air quality and more heat waves in the summer.”

Reflecting on Hopkins’ environmental impact, Collier acknowledged that Hopkins “does a pretty good job of being sustainable. It is nice to see that there are paper cups in the café, recycling bins next to almost every trash bin, and that a lot of the lights automatically turn off when they aren’t being used.” Collier believes that Hopkins should focus on spreading awareness so that “students connect with an environmental issue that they feel passionate about and havean impact on communities outside of Hopkins.” Although recycling bins are common on campus, Sydney Hirsch ’19 noticed “a good amount of plastic bottles purchased from the cafe end up in our trash cans as op- posed to recycling bins” and hopes that “a little awareness of this issue could go a long way on our campus.”

Simon Bazelon ’21 believes that “the most important thing Hopkins can do to reduce its carbon footprint would be to serve less meat in the lunchroom as switching to plant based alternatives is both more humane and more environmentally conscious.” Sonnenfeld, one of the Meatless Monday advocates on campus, elaborated on the importance and ease of a joint campus effort to eat meatless one day a week: “With the amazing Veg Revolution station, we already have wonderful vegetarian options, so going vegetarian one day a week is an easy, effective way to help the environment. By reducing meat consumption, we are saving resources, saving our world, and beneftting our individual health.”

Kealey also touched on the importance of evaluating lunch habits in order to be more sustainable: “I think if we could do anything better it would be to not use so much water waste at lunch, by not using a new plate every time you go through the lunch line, and completely emptying your plate before sending it to be washed.”

Collier is especially interested in the role plastic pollution as it pertains to ocean ecosystems and leverages social media to spread awareness: “My friend and I run an awareness website and Instagram account for coral restoration called Little Blue World to promote habits to help save the reefs and keep our oceans clean. We both have gotten to see the beauty of the reefs up close, so our goal is to guide other people to connect with this issue and help individually.”
Hirsch elaborated on her efforts to be environmentally friendly: “I’ve eliminated all disposable plastic use in my house, and I pretty much always have my metal straw on me.” Lamothe thinks that the key to living more sustainably can be found in taking one extra step, like “finding a recycling bin when a trash can is right in front of you, or taking a shorter shower,” and recognized that taking this extra step and breaking old habits can be diffcult. Sonnenfeld echoed this emphasis on personal actions: “it really comes down to individual accountability and staying conscious in doing as much as we can, whether that’s using reusable bags to shop, becoming vegetarian, or educating others.”

On the other hand, Bazelon commented on the need for collective based solutions: “Changes to personal behavior are nowhere near enough; the only acceptable response is large-scale policy changes on the governmental level. I think activism and participation in the political process from voting, to calling your Congressperson, to running for offce yourself is the most important thing we can do.”

Hirsch, also feeling the tension between personal and large scale commitments to save the environment, added, “While I know I can make a smaller scale impact, it’s really large corporations that are doing the most damage to our environment. I honestly don’t know how to begin to tackle that, or to even bring awareness to it, but hopefully in college that will change.” Melchinger hopes that “as a community, Hopkins will do more to become a sustainable environment and provide opportunities to help our greater community. We have to put as much effort into slowing down climate change as we can before it’s too late.”
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
     
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