emily cooney headshot [temporary]

As we all walk to class each week, we finally get to take in the campus scenery, but also the intense heat, whether we like it or not. Trust me, you are not the only one sweating on the way to class. However, it is important to note that this is due to a greater issue: climate change.

Climate change is the long-term change in the average weather patterns primarily caused by human activity such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. This increase in temperature is also referred to as global warming. While these acts may seem like they can only be fixed on a larger corporate scale, there are many ways we can help reduce the effects of climate change as students.

As for motivation to help, you can look forward to less scorching hot summers that seem endless. After these last few weeks, that is reason enough for me. However, climate change poses even greater threats to humanity than extreme discomfort during the summer.

In addition to the higher temperatures throughout the world, climate change has caused air pollution to immensely worsen, according to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. This issue is so severe that anywhere between 3.6 million and 9 million premature deaths per year are estimated, as air pollution can induce strokes and heart attacks.

Heat waves have also become much worse due to climate change, and college students walking miles across campus can attest to this first hand. Contrary to popular belief, heat waves can become deadly if people are unable to reach air conditioning or somehow regulate their body temperature. It is fair to say that taking action against climate change should be close to the top of our priority list as we will suffer the consequences otherwise.

Although there is a great abundance of issues that climate change causes, there are real and easy ways we can help combat the impacts as young adults and students at NC State. 

One way in which students can support sustainability and environmentalism is by joining EcoVillage. Housed in Bragaw Hall, students from all majors in this residential hub can participate in a wide variety of community service opportunities provided by the Village staff. Each resident must complete a certain amount of service hours per semester, which is not only a great way to help the environment and make friends, but also enhance your resume. 

Additionally, we must vote for candidates in our state and federal government who plan to take action as well. More things you can do on a personal level include eating less meat and dairy, avoiding air travel and driving when possible, reducing energy use in your home, respecting and protecting nature and many more.

NC State also has a sustainability program that promotes equity and environmental justice. Their website contains an abundance of information on organizations and events students can participate in on campus, including educational podcasts and symposiums as well as academic courses related to environmental justice.   

Another campus group dedicated to making environmental changes is the NC State chapter of the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG). Recently, they have started a “Break Free From Plastics” campaign that aims to get NC State to eventually eliminate single-use plastics. All students who have an interest in making a difference in the environment are welcome to get involved in NCPIRG.

Most of all, focus on what you can do as a student on and off campus to change the direction of our future. Dealing with climate change is not impossible if we act now. It’s important to remember that small steps on an individual level can make a difference and protect our planet.

I am a fourth year studying Communication with a concentration in Media and Spanish. I started writing for Technician this summer of 2020 as a correspondent.